Elisa, a Finnish telecommunications company, recently announced that it had begun ‘commercial use of a 5G network.’ ITU News caught up with Anne Berner, Finland’s Minister of Transport and Communications, on Finland’s 5G progress and next steps for 5G development.
Elisa’s launch is one of the examples of ongoing active 5G testing in Finland.
In Finland, a sufficient amount of frequencies has been allocated for test, demonstration and experimental use. The Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority, the authority in our ministry’s administrative brand, supports experimentation and testing by flexibly issuing radio licences for 5G trials.
‘5G will boost digitalisation and meet the future wireless communications needs of special user groups in a variety of industrial, commercial and governmental sectors.’ – Anne Berner, Finland’s Minister of Transport and Communications
Testing is possible in the so-called 3,5 GHz and 26 GHz bands that have been identified as 5G pioneer bands in Europe. It is also possible to receive licences for 5G testing in other frequency bands.
Testing in the 3,5 GHz band is particularly important, as frequencies in this band will be available for nationwide commercial use from the beginning of next year. This means that we are about to move from trials to actual deployments then. The licenses for commercial use will be auctioned for this band later this year.
The Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority has issued about 30 licenses for 5G testing. The 5G test network projects include representatives from the major global players in the telecoms sector, along with small and medium-sized companies, network operators, public authorities, universities and research institutions. Nokia is one of the most active players in this testing environment.
Finland continues to invite all interested national and international parties to apply for a 5G test license from the regulator (FICORA).
5G is likely to provide significantly higher capacity, shorter delays and lower energy consumption than the existing 4G networks. This will mean faster internet connections to consumers, businesses and authorities.
Also, 5G will boost digitalisation and meet the future wireless communications needs of special user groups in a variety of industrial, commercial and governmental sectors.
Use of 5G for fast and reliable machine-to-machine (M2M) communications will enable the development of completely new applications for the needs of, for example, industrial robotics and automation and remote healthcare. It is also particularly important to consider the potential role of 5G and other future mobile technologies in provision of high-quality services required by different Intelligent Transport Systems.
Of course, high building costs due to the huge number cell sites required can be considered to be a challenge. However, as long as we secure a competitive market environment, I am positive that the telecom operators will be able to construct high-quality networks in cost-efficient manner.
In the very first phase, the ultra-fast 5G networks are likely to cover the bigger cities and the most important logistics and transport spots.
‘Progressive spectrum policy is one of the key factors for 5G development.’ – Anne Berner
There is also an increasing need for the availability of fiber to cell sites. From the administrative perspective, we aim at advancing fiber deployment, for example, by easing and combining the procedures of construction and deployment permits and by boosting co-construction.
It is also important to consider the constantly increasing need for new frequencies for mobile communications. At the EU and global levels, we believe that progressive spectrum policy is one of the key factors for 5G development.
The next World Radio Conference (WRC-19) is a unique opportunity to achieve the goal of harmonization of spectrum for 5G in the long term. New frequencies for 5G should be sought particularly from the higher frequency bands to enable even higher transmission rates.