Elisa, Ericsson Win Finland’s 10-Year Public-Safety Broadband Contracts
Thursday, April 09, 2020 | Comments

Erillisverkot, the provider of Finland’s planned Virve 2.0 public-safety broadband network, will acquire the broadband radio access network (RAN) as a service from Elisa and the core systems from Ericsson.

Virve is Finland’s nationwide TETRA network, while Virve 2.0 will include broadband capabilities. Erillisverkot is the statutory service operator and produces critical broadband Virve 2.0 services.

Virve 2.0 service will provide secure, reliable and diverse wireless broadband services to the country’s authorities and public-safety users. The contract term is 10 years, and all parts of the procurement are closely interlinked.

Erillisverkot plans to offer a prioritized broadband connection for public-safety authorities and other security operators by the end of 2021. Users are scheduled to adopt the new service by the end of 2025. The current Virve TETRA network will be used simultaneously with the new Virve 2.0 service until the end of the migration period.

The procurement of applications for the Virve 2.0 project will be launched later this year and will implement communications solutions similar to those in the current Virve network, as well as new functionalities, including a group video call service in 2023.

“The importance of Virve in critical operations cannot be overstated,” said Timo Lehtimäki, CEO of Erillisverkot. “The next generation of Virve will be one of the most important governmental ICT (information, communications and technology) projects in the coming years, and naturally, a high priority for us at Erillisverkot. Virve will facilitate seamless cooperation between the authorities and other public-safety operators, crucial in daily life but also in crisis situations, such as the current coronavirus pandemic.”

For the next-generation Virve, Elisa will provide the 4G and 5G radio access and expand its geographical coverage area to correspond to the current Virve network. Elisa said the network will be Finland’s largest data and voice network, and the extended service area corresponds to the current TETRA network.

“Our long-term cooperation with state administration and security actors is now being taken to a new level,” said Timo Katajisto, director of Elisa’s corporate customer unit. “The goal is nothing less than the world’s highest-quality service for authorities and Finland’s most comprehensive mobile phone and data network.

“Erillisverkot is the world’s leading security operator in its field. It is great to be able to work together to develop the next generation of network systems and services for the authorities and to be involved in ensuring national security and preparedness.”

The new service will include 4G and 5G technologies and the internet of things (IoT). IoT enables applications such as monitoring rescue personnel and mobile use of surveillance cameras and drones.

About 80 million messages pass through the Virve system every week. Elisa is committed to increasing the coverage, capacity and verification of its mobile network to meet the requirements of Virve 2.0.

For Ericsson, the 10-year deal covers the provision of Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) core IT systems, products and solutions in Erillisverkot’s public-safety network. Ericsson said it will deploy its dual-mode 5G core portfolio on a common cloud-native platform. Network functions virtualization infrastructure (NFVI), dynamic orchestration and voice over Long Term Evolution (LTE) solutions are also included, alongside related deployment, training and support services.

The technology will enable Erillisverkot to manage and control its mission-critical broadband network, safeguard information security and protect data integrity.

“Critical networks demand the very best standards of reliability, security and performance in the core,” Arun Bansal, Ericsson president Europe and Latin America, said. “We are working closely with Erillisverkot to ensure that is exactly what they will get from Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G core products and solutions to benefit critical services in Finland. It's fantastic to see Finland take such bold steps to ensure the safety and support of the nation in such a forward-thinking way, and I look forward to other countries following suit.”

The Virve 2.0 project was launched in 2018 by the Ministerial Committee on Economic Policy. The procurement will be completed in accordance with the Act on Public Contracts in the Fields of Defense and Security. All companies involved in the negotiations submitted approved offers by the end of the deadline for tenders, and partners were selected on the basis of points allocated to the tenders.

Finland’s Committee of Ministers for Economic Affairs approved the transition plan late last year.

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