When 4G was introduced to Norway in 2012, residents of the Artic archipelago of Svalbard were among the first to test the technology. As the dawn of the 5G standard breaks, residents of the island community will again be among the first in the country to test the next generation network.
“Extreme weather conditions in remote locations populated by a small but industrious community makes Svalbard a dream test case for 5G. The experiences we gain from here will be critical as we bring connectivity to more corners of the world where a changing climate requires us to both utilise resources better and work in new ways with partners and communities to transform,” says Sigve Brekke, President & CEO, Telenor Group.
Telenor intends to use 2019 to experiment, explore and learn as much as possible about 5G. This is why Svalbard’s Arctic’s landscape of glaciers, mountains and fjords, and the tundra climate presents unique conditions for Telenor to learn as much as possible about the geographical and topographical challenges faced by the new mobile network prior to commercial launch in 2020.
“Svalbard is a unique region in the global context, and the ideal location for testing the super network of the future. We are starting small, and will extend the pilot to include some very interesting user areas in the longer-term. This is an exciting time for the residents of Svalbard, as well as us at Telenor,” says Petter Furberg, CEO of Telenor Norway.
Telenor’s 5G pilot in Svalbard will include testing of broadband via 5G and 5G on mobile handsets.
Drones and emergency networks
Subject already to extreme weather conditions, rendered even more difficult as a result of climate change, 5G can prove a particularly vital technology in a location such as Svalbard. As a result, Telenor is now considering testing drones, emergency networks and 360 degree cameras over 5G on the archipelago.
“Drones can play a completely different role to their present one thanks to 5G. For example, it will be possible to communicate and share real-time data with teams on the ground far more efficiently. This will strengthen preparedness, response times and efficiency for rescue missions. An emergency network based on 5G will inspire far more confidence in the emergency services, as they will have better control of its use, capacity, security and monitoring,” says Furberg.
Better avalanche warnings
Since early 2019, Telenor has been running a pilot project in Svalbard, using innovative technology to provide better indications of impending avalanches. In partnership with the University Centre in Svalbard, snow measurers equipped with IoT sensors has been developed. The first of these measuring stations has been deployed in the area around Longyearbyen using Telenor’s 4G network and the Narrowband IoT technology.
With the launch of the 5G pilot on Svalbard, there is an evaluation under way to determine how avalanche warning work can also be further developed.
Telenor and 5G
Svalbard is one of 10 Norwegian locations that will get 5G over the course of this year including Elverum, Kongsberg, Oslo and Trondheim. Also in Scandinavia, earlier this year, Telenor Denmark announced the commencement of 5G trials with Nokia for Telenor’s Scandinavian operations, and has since then successfully made the first 5G call over the network in addition to achieving test download speeds of 1GB per second.
In Asia, Telenor’s Thai operation, dtac, began 5G tests over 28GHz spectrum on its premises in Bangkok while Telenor’s Malaysian operation, Digi, has partnered with Cyberview to open a 5G lab in the country. The ‘OpenLab’ will be a collaborative space for businesses academics and developers to test new 5G use cases.
THE JOURNEY SO FAR: TELENOR’S 5G MILESTONES
- July 4, 2018: Telenor Group is to coordinate the 5G Verticals INNovation Infrastructure (5G-VINNI) initiative, an EU-led project to accelerate the uptake of 5G across Europe.
- November 8, 2018: Telenor Norway opens Scandinavia’s first 5G pilot in Kongsberg
- February 25, 2019: Telenor and Nokia begin testing 5G capabilities in Denmark
- February 26, 2019: Telenor Norway announces that it will establish a 5G pilot at Elverum and other locations
- March 27, 2019: Telenor Norway announces that Trondheim will be the first major city to get 5G
- May 27, 2019: Digi and ZTE sign MoU to explore 5G technology in Malaysia
- May 31, 2019: dtac teams up with state telecom agencies TOT and CAT Telecom to test 5G wireless broadband technology.
- July 10, 2019: Telenor Norway announces that Askvoll will be its next 5G pilot
- September 9: dtac launches 5G testbed at its internal Never Stop Café
- September 17, 2019: Telenor opens a 5G base station at its headquarters in Oslo
- September 19, 2019: Telenor’s Malaysian operator, Digi, partners with Cyberview on 5G OpenLab at Cyberjaya.
- September 26, 2019: Telenor launches Scandinavia’s largest 5G pilot in Elverum in addition to announcing pilots in nine further locations in the country. Telenor conducts Norway’s first video call over 5G.
- October 14, 2019: Telenor announces the world’s most northerly pilot in the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. The pilot will go live on October 20, 2019.