At the opening ceremony of its 5G lab in Taipei, Far EasTone Telecommunications said it expects to start offering 5G services in 2018, ahead of commercial operations in 2020.

The operator, Taiwan’s third largest mobile player, aims to launch its first pre-commercial 5G services during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games (South Korea), the Taipei Times reported.

The lab, developed in partnership with Ericsson, is the country’s first 5G lab. The facility demoed data transmission speeds of 1Gb/s on its 4G network, making it Ericsson’s ninth global 5G partner to reach that speed.

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.

Far EasTone, with nearly a 24 per cent market share (marginally behind number two Taiwan Mobile), announced in June it was working with the Swedish equipment vendor to set up the 5G lab in Taipei.

It also announced plans earlier in the year 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.

Long before 5G becomes a reality, the operator said it will upgrade its 4G infrastructure to LTE-Advanced using three carrier aggregation, 4×4 MIMO and 256QAM technologies.