Economic Committee Supports Finland’s Public-Safety Broadband Transition Plan
Wednesday, December 18, 2019 | Comments

Finland’s Committee of Ministers for Economic Affairs supported the reform of the Virve public-safety communications network. The Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy 17 December endorsed the replacement of the current Virve service with a new official communications service called Virve 2.0 to meet the needs of the authorities by 2026.

The new public communications service can deliver the broadband and data communications required by public authorities in an efficient, secure manner in all situations. Critical communications and cooperation between authorities and other security actors across the country will be secured through the reform of the authority network, in line with the government's program guidelines.

The current Virve service has been in use almost throughout the country since 2002 and has about 44,000 users. The users are divided into state officials, such as police, defense forces, border guards; municipal officials, such as rescue services, social and health services; and critical businesses, such as railway operators, energy companies, security companies and telecommunications operators. The current solution will likely reach the end of its technological life by the end of the next decade.

Suomen Erillisverkot will push the network reform forward. The Ministry of Transport and Communications and the Ministry of Finance carried out studies on the implementation alternatives and service model of the new public authority network in 2016 – 2017. On the basis of the studies, a service model, where the service operator is 100% state-owned Suomen Erillisverkot, was chosen. The commercial mobile radio operator in the radio network will be selected through separate tendering. The purpose of the model is to keep the core of the network important for national security under state ownership and control.

In accordance with the decision of the Committee on Economic Policy, Suomen Erillisverkot will start implementing the reform. Vendor selection and network development work will begin in early 2020. The authorities will introduce a new service by 2026. Until then, the current service is considered to meet the requirements of the authorities.

The availability and quality of the service is also guaranteed in the event of congestion. According to a decision by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Policy, the coverage of the Virve 2.0 service will be improved by building state-owned additional infrastructure beyond the reach of existing commercial networks. The radio network's immunity to interference will be enhanced with respect to power backup and by introducing privileged measures to ensure reliable operation even in the event of congestion on a commercial network.

Suomen Erillisverkot is responsible for the development, service production and construction of additional masts for the Virve 2.0 service. The Ministry of Finance is responsible for the management of the service. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Finance, the possibility for the Supply Security Center to contribute to the financing of the implementation, development and use of the network will also be explored.

Last month, Finland released a request for information (RFI) on the Virve 2.0 mission-critical services in the European Union’s Tender Electronic Daily Service.

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