5G Whizz: What the New Network Will Mean for You

Three Business Blog Team
On: 13 Jul 2017
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Eoin MacManus Three

Eoin MacManus, business director at Three Ireland, says the rollout of 5G networks, expected following next year’s Winter Olympics, could have a major impact on the Irish market.

As featured in the Sunday Business Post, 9th July 2017 by Emmet Ryan.

Next year promises to be a banner year for 5G, according to Eoin. With the South Korean government putting in a heavy push to have the technology running effectively in time for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang next February, the broader rollout of 5G networks is expected to follow soon after. MacManus told The Sunday Business Post that 5G could have significant implications for the Irish market.

5G is going to revolutionise people’s mobile experiences, but its applications will be far more wide reaching than what is currently available on mobile. 5G will facilitate things like the driverless car. It requires a completely different way of building your network because it has high data speeds but low contention.

“At the moment, it’s about customers taking advantage of 3G and 4G, those are still very relevant technologies and will be into the future. Even we haven’t fully bottomed out the significance of 5G, but we know we will be able to significantly transform people’s experiences. It will allow us to deliver a completely transformative set of products and services to customers.”

MacManus has been with Three since 2009, having formerly been with Eir. “Three was set up on the back of the 3G licence, the whole modus operandi of Three was to take advantage of 3G. Now we have 60 per cent spectrum of 3G and 4G, and we have just been awarded the best geographical spread of 5G,” he said. “The whole business has been based on a significant spectrum allocation that allows us to provide a better data experience.”

MacManus said internet of things (IoT) technology will be particularly influenced by the rollout of 5G, despite IoT’s current base in far earlier technologies. “Even IoT is relevant on 2G; 95 per cent of all IoT rollouts are on 2G. It’s the ability to have many thousands of data connections within a very small site that will make 5G important.” he said. “5G will enable users to have a multitude of products connected to the internet simultaneously and give them a transformative digital experience.” On a broader level, MacManus said that IoT take up and usage is progressing well. “Where we are seeing applications is in the car and transportation space. We’ve just done a deal with Europcar where they put sensors in their cars to track the speed and where it has been.” he said. “It’s allowed them to significantly reduce instances of fraud in their car rental business.” Euopcar found, via the sensors, that a customer who had an accident had done so fraudulently by following the movements of the car and had met the other party in the accident ahead of time.

“That allows firms to reduce insurance bills. We’ve also done a deal with Nordsense in Denmark who are installing sensors into bins. They can track whether a bin is full or not, allowing them to work with waste management companies to optimise the route of bin collection trucks. There are a lot of innovative solutions. Moocall has a sensor that sits on the tail of a cow so that when a cow is calving, it sends a signal to the farmer.”

With many IoT solutions focused on security matters, the broader area of mobile security is garnering increased interest from customers, according to MacManus. “We all know that mobiles are important to businesses but what’s happening is that customers are looking to companies like us to help them transform into much more mobile organisations. It’s about how they collaborate via mobile phones, as opposed to just texting or sending emails. It’s about containing the data in the cloud,” he said. “What that cloud does is it causes a significant security issue as now there’s a lot of sensitive data sitting on those devices. With GDPR (general data protection regulation) coming down the tracks next year, companies are looking for ways to make themselves more secure. That’s why we need things like enterprise mobile management solutions to track, manage, monitor, and delete information. That’s a heightened issue at the moment.”

The GDPR factor

With GDPR coming into force next May, MacManus said the firm was making good progress in ensuring it would be fully compliant. “We’re very much on top of it. We have our own data protection officer in the company and kicked off a project over a year ago to make sure we would be compliant. We’re more than comfortable. It’s been a significant piece of work for us, requiring us to change our systems, policies and processes.” he said.

Despite his confidence regarding Three, MacManus said there was still a great deal of work remaining for the bulk of businesses ahead of the implementation of GDPR. “I don’t think businesses, particularly in the SME sector, fully understand the implications it has for exposure. Companies have to own the responsibility, otherwise they could end up being caught out.” said MacManus. “The first thing companies need to understand is they are responsible for it. It’s not something they can outsource entirely. They can get support but ultimately it’s something they have to own and manage themselves. What’s surprising is the lack of awareness companies have regarding GDPR requirements and legislation.”

The Three business director said the trend of clients asking for advice on the GDPR was part of the evolution in the role of telcos. “If you go back eight or nine years, people looked at telecoms as a customer-supplier relationship, whereas today communications is becoming an enabler of transformation in a company. The definition of a telco is changing. It used to be about fixed line or telecoms,” said MacManus. “Today companies are looking for connectivity solutions, including Wi-Fi, hosted unified communications and security. They are looking for a telco to be a one-stop shop for a whole host of services that ten years ago, we weren’t even in. Today, companies look at organisations like us and ask how we can bring them to the next level. They almost look at us as an outside consultant.”

That expansion of roles for telcos has MacManus confident about business opportunities for Three going forward. “The market’s wide open at the moment. It’s looking for a strong alternative and we are well positioned to continue to be a significant force in telecoms in the country. As we complete our network transition, with the spectrum that we’ve got, we’re in a fantastic position to offer companies great solutions,” he said. “The next 18 months are going to be an interesting time for us. Any of the work that needed to be done as part of the integration of O2 and Three will be done. Also, our new billing system will change the way customers interact with us.

We have focused on enabling 4G in every site in the country. We’ve always had a strong reputation for offering 3G in rural Ireland. With the acquisition of O2, we’re in a better position. With the 5G spectrum we’ve been allocated, that again puts us in a unique position to service rural Ireland.”