5G in Ireland

Why is 5G being deployed in Ireland and throughout Europe? 

As part of the 5G Action Plan for Europe, issued by the European Commission in 2016, Ireland and other European member states have made radiofrequency (RF) spectrum available for 5G in order to facilitate the deployment of this technology. 

Since 2019, several mobile operators have started rolling out 5G networks throughout Ireland. As of October 2020, there are 5G networks available in the major Irish cities and towns (Dublin, Cork, Galway, Wexford, Waterford). 

Millimetre Waves (mmWaves)

Radiofrequency (RF) fields with frequencies between 30-300 gigahertz (GHz) are also referred to as millimetre waves (mmWaves), given their short wavelength. This term is also sometimes used to refer to the 26 GHz frequency band which is planned to be used for 5G services.  

The roll-out of 5G in Ireland has begun by using the frequencies in the lower RF bands (first 3.6 GHz and later 700 MHz). It is envisaged that the 26 GHz band and higher frequencies may be used in the future.  

The mmWaves part of the spectrum is 10 to 100 times higher than the frequencies currently used by mobile communication networks, usually of up to a few GHz. The use of these higher frequencies has given rise to public concerns.  However, the use of these higher frequencies is not new. Similar frequencies have been used for radars, point-to-point microwave links, airport security scanners and other applications for years. 

What frequency bands have been allocated for 5G?

The RF spectrum is a natural resource managed in Ireland by the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). ComReg, in accordance with EU policy, has specified three RF bands for the use of 5G: 

700 MHz/3.6 MHz:

Use of these RF bands is not new. The 3.6 GHz band is similar to the frequencies currently being used for 4G while 700 MHz was previously used for analogue TV broadcasting.

26 GHz:

This higher frequency band is not currently used for 5G in Ireland and is not expected to be deployed for several years. When it is deployed, it is expected to be used mostly in urban areas. The useful range at this frequency is short (a few hundred meters) so using it in rural areas is not likely to be practical.