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5G on the 48 network
While travelling with someone to Sligo, I periodically checked the signal readings and ran speed tests along the way to see how the 48 network performs compared to my previous trip.  While on my way back, I noticed the 5G icon appear while passing Ballyshannon.  At first I thought I accidentally switched to the Eir SIM (which has no active bundle), but it was set to 48. 

I double-checked by bringing up the Samsung service menu (*#0011) and sure enough, the NR section had signal readings for the Three network.  I took a screenshot and immediately ran a speed test.  Despite running the Google M-Lab test with the weak 5G signal, it got reasonably good speed both down and up: 


By the time I opened the Ookla App, it dropped back to 4G+ and noticed the "Restrict DCNR" showed '1' again in the service menu, i.e. 5G access prohibited.  I'm not sure whether this was 48 testing 5G or Three accidentally letting MVNOs 5G access briefly, but certainly was a surprise seeing 5G on the 48 network, even though it only lasted about a minute.
I can confirm this works for me too , it seems to work when you're close to the mast, it doesn't really work for me from home, but anytime I'm near the arranmore mast or the gweedore estate mast I get 5G on 48 as well. It worked for multiple speed tests. Once you're a few km away it will stay on 4G, kind of strange.
That's good to know as this was the first time I saw the 5G icon appear. I wonder if it is just certain band n78 masts that allow access. For example, I didn't get 5G while in Sligo or in Letterkenny recently, but am curious to check the next time in Letterkenny.

From checking Tesco Mobile's website, I see they now have 5G access, at least with their 5G phone plans. With 48 having the same MVNO code as Tesco Mobile (272 11), it's possible the some masts are misidentifying the 48 SIMs as being 5G enabled. Smile
I had 5G for a while on Sunday (27th February) while in Letterkenny.  Coverage appeared to be better than what I got with Eir there with a decent signal along the road from Screwfix all the way to the Circle K pump on the Glencar road.  The speed test below was outside the hospital.

From my observations, it looks like either 48 is trialling 5G (possibly for its upcoming pricer plan) or Three could be temporarily allowing 5G access to free up congestion on its 4G network.  After about 6pm, I noticed my phone would no longer connect on 5G anywhere there while with someone driving the same road back.  

While having the Samsung signal readings displayed going through Barnesmore between Donegal and Ballybofey, I noticed it got 5G briefly and took a screenshot.  As shown below, it was clearly connected on 5G despite the "RestrictDCNR: 1":


Today (28th February), I got a lift to Dublin for surgery and not once did my phone connect to 5G along the way to/from Dublin.  I did see the "UpLayerInd: 1" appear multiple times along the way, a few times while on band 28 and 1 (15MHz frequency).  I was surprised even with the above screenshot where it used band 20 as the primary 4G band for 5G on band n78, assuming my phone didn't glitch presenting the readings, as occasionally happens in weak signal areas.
I also did a speedtest in Dublin few days ago. Got these results near Trinity. Wish I had this at home Big Grin any word on when they'll be rolling out the new frequency bands?
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Upon entering Letterkenny today, I picked up 5G for about 1 minute.  Just enough time to run a download test on TestMy.  As I was passing heavy vegetation and the LYIT, I wanted to rerun the test it dropped to 4G+ by the time I reached ALDI.  Interestingly for the NR information, it showed an unusual failure SCG Failure "t310-Expiry":


In the several hours I was in Letterkenny, it did not switch to 5G again, even with periodically toggling in and out of aeroplane mode. 

While periodically checking the readouts on my way home, I have noticed it show "UpLayerInd: 1" in more areas I don't recall seeing it before.  Barnesmore was the only area where it briefly established 5G with the same cell details as my above screenshot, so either the other areas were operating on band n3 or not allowing 5G access at the time.  

It makes me wonder if 48 is periodically allowing brief 5G access to see which customers have 5G handsets and the locations they pick up 5G.  

Later this year, I might upgrade to a more recent Samsung model capable of the N1/N3 bands, preferably with an Exynos or Dimensity based modem.  The A53 looked promising until I noticed it lacks Wi-Fi 6 and still has USB 2.0.  The Galaxy S21 FE is a good candidate (Exynos 2100, USB 3.2 and Wi-Fi 6 MIMO) if the price comes down enough.
I get the impression that 48 (or Three itself) is making 5G available on more masts, such as some operating the 5G n3 band.  The main telltale sign on band n3 availability with a non 5G phone or one lacking the n3 band (like mine) is that the network keeps the phone on 4G band 20 or 28 even within good coverage of band 3 or 1.  Three uses 4G bands 20 and/or 28 for 5G NSA on band n3.   For 5G band n78, Three pairs with 4G band 1 (and 20).  A user on boards reported the same recently.

For example, in Killybegs up until recently my phone would automatically switch to bands 1 or 3 as the primary band with an adequate signal, i.e. RSRP > -108dBm.  Today, it stayed put on band 28 with the NR diagnostic info periodically showing "NR MO: ADD", i.e. trying to establish a 5G connection.  My phone does not support 5G band n3, which the Killybegs mast operates 5G on, so this just fails in a loop like with a 5G enabled Three SIM:


As before, they still have the "Restrict DCNR" flag in place even on masts that allow 5G access.
The thing I notice is I have to be within a kilometer or 2 max for the 5G to work on my 48 SIM , maybe if the signal is below a certain threshhold it disconnects. Because I had a three sim and 48 SIM when I tested it in gweedore and it'd hold the proper 5G plan SIM connection all the way to the other side of gweedore but the 48 one would drop after driving away from the mast.

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