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    Three tops download speed in Ireland but eir wins on availability – Ookla report


    Three is Ireland’s fastest operator but eir is always there for you, according to the latest Speedtest data analysed by researcher Ookla. It all depends what sort of relationship you are looking for from your smartphone.

    Despite being the last operator to jump on the 5G bandwagon in September 2020, Three Ireland is the fastest operator in Eire, according to a new Speedtest Intelligence report by analyst Okla. However, its rival eir is the most available network, according to the figures.

    The tests were conducted on networks run by 350 MHz spectrum holders Vodafone IrelandEir IrelandThree Ireland , fixed wireless operator Imagine Communications Ireland (Imagine) and Airspan Spectrum Holdings (Airspan), now known as Dense Air Limited

    Judging by the median 5G download speed Three Ireland is the top service available as it achieved 238.70 Mbps in the Q3-Q4 2021 analysis of Speedtest Intelligence data. The tests showed that Three Ireland achieved a 20 per cent year-over-year increase. The median 5G upload speeds across all operators were all around the 20 Mbps mark for Vodafone, Three and eir during Q3-Q4 2021.

    However, the infrastructure work put in by Three Ireland and Ericsson to transform its Radio Access Network (RAN) with 1000 installations has paid off, according to Sylwia Kechiche, principal industry analyst for enterprise at Ookla. Three 3 also has the advantage of being able to use some of its excess capacity in the 1.8 GHz band to deploy 5G in rural villages and towns, a strategy that can take advantage of favourable propagation relative to 3.6 GHz, according to Kechiche.

    A different impression is made on Ireland’s mobile users over 5G availability, which was measured by the percentage of users on 5G-capable devices that spend most of the time with access to 5G networks. 5G Availability across Ireland was 11.7 per cent in Q3-Q4 2021. On availability eir is a clear winner with a continuity score of 26.6 per cent, three times that of the nearest competitor Three Ireland (at 8.2 per cent availability) and trouncing Vodafone (at 6.4 per cent.)

    The explanation by Ookla analyst Kechiche is that eir’s €1billion national investment programme includes roll outs for fibre broadband and 5G networks, as well as the expansion of 4G LTE networks. The operator has expanded the 5G availability of its 5G NSA (Non-Standalone) network by using spectrum in the 1800 MHz and 3.5 GHz, says Kechiche’s report.

    In October 2021, eir announced that its 5G network was available to more than 70 per cent of the Irish population (across 336 towns and cities), and increased this to 430 towns and cities during Q4 2021. Vodafone, has also expanded 5G to its prepaid customer base and introduced a 5G broadband option in 2021, using Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) in the 2.1 GHz band in partnership with Ericsson.