Taiwan’s third largest operator Far EasTone Telecommunications is partnering with Swedish equipment vendor Ericsson to set up the country’s first 5G laboratory in Taipei.

Far EasTone chairman Douglas Hsu told reporters on the sideline of its annual general meeting that it aims to have a “clearer picture of the 5G business. The cooperation with Ericsson will help us be better prepared to offer 5G services”, the Taipei Times reported.

Yvonne Li, the company’s president, said the lab, which is targeted to start operations next quarter, will be open to hardware vendors, software developers and platform developers.

After launching 5G services, she expects revenue from its core network business to gradually fall from 80 per cent of total revenue to about 50 per cent, with application services and multimedia platforms expected to account for 30 per cent and 20 per cent respectively, the Times said.

While a number of operators and vendors have announced 5G tests and trials this year, the first official release of a 5G standard isn’t expected until mid-2018, with phase two following by the end of 2019 – so the consensus is that 5G launches won’t start until 2020. Widespread deployments of 5G aren’t expected to come until 2022 or later.

At its analyst event in Stockholm this week Ericsson said it is working with 24 operators, 12 industry partners and nearly 20 universities and research institutes on 5G projects and future use cases.

Far EasTone also announced plans to hire 2,000 employees this year to support its move to expand its services in areas such as video content and boost its marketing team.

Far EasTone, with nearly a 23 per cent market share, trails number two Taiwan Mobile by less than 1 percentage point. Both have about 7.4 million subscribers, according to GMSA Intelligence. About half of Far EasTone’s customers are on 4G plans.