Telia turned on its commercial 5G network in parts of Norway this week, alongside vendor Ericsson, with the aim of nationwide coverage by the end of 2023.
The first locations to get access to 5G service include Lillestrøm and parts of Groruddalen in greater Oslo, with plans to expand across the city, as well as into Trondheim and Bergen later this year. Telia set a target of 2021 to reach half of Norway’s population with 5G, while it continues work on its four-year network upgrade project to also enhance 4G performance.
Work this year ahead of the 5G launch included upgrading around 40 base stations with Ericsson’s 5G technology, according to Telia. The operator gained access to two 10 megahertz channels of low-band 700 MHz spectrum last year that it called a “key enabler” for rolling out 5G.
Last October, Telia Norway tapped Ericsson as its sole radio access network (RAN) supplier in a 5G deal that includes 5G New Radio (NR) hardware and software. Ericsson is also helping Telia upgrade 2G and 4G networks. At the time, the operator said it would introduce 5G services starting in the enterprise sector “with a business case driven approach,” though the launch this week opened 5G to consumers as well.
Telia’s deal with Ericsson includes the Swedish vendor’s dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) software. With DSS technology carriers don’t have to carve out dedicated spectrum for 5G, but instead can share existing spectrum resources for both LTE and 5G. Ericsson’s product can dynamically allocate spectrum depending on traffic demands within 1 millisecond. The ability to deliver LTE and 5G in the same band, on the same radio via a software upgrade is expected to help deploy 5G NR services more quickly.
Ericsson Spectrum Sharing (ESS) solution became commercially available last December, and operators including Swisscom, Telstra, Ooredoo and Play, among others, are already using it. Fierce could not immediately confirm whether Telia deployed DSS yet for its initial 5G launch in Norway.
In the U.S., operators like Verizon have indicated plans to deploy DSS technology for broader low-band 5G rollouts this year. Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said in April that DSS tests were going “very well,” though executives at competitor T-Mobile continue to insist the technology is “still bumpy.”
Regarding Telia Norway’s 5G launch, CEO Stein-Erik Vellan in a press release said 5G will help deliver a better customer experience, including greater coverage and low-latency.
“For example, we want to offer our customers significantly higher data rates and much larger data volumes compared to 4G,” Vellan stated. “Last but not least, there is tremendous potential in 5G technology for a more environmentally friendly and sustainable society. It will not only lead to energy efficiency, but also to less pollution in cities and better maintenance of buildings and roads, for example, as millions of things eventually connect online in new solutions.”
In the announcement, Vellan also pointed to potential for new 5G-enabled applications such as self-driving vehicles, advanced services in industry and healthcare and new mobile gaming experiences.
“At the same time, we are dedicated to testing 5G with our customers and partners, so that we can get an even better insight into all of its possibilities,” he continued.
Jenny Lindqvist, Ericsson’s head of Northern & Central Europe, in a prepared statement called support to connect industries “probably the highest impacting implementation” of 5G technology, which will “drive automation, making us more efficient, more sustainable and opening up a new world of innovation.”