Work to begin on Finland's PSMB system

Thursday, 23 April, 2020

Work to begin on Finland's PSMB system

Finland’s Virve 2.0 public safety mobile broadband network will be up and running by 2025.

Erillisverkot has awarded contracts for Finland’s broadband Virve 2.0 public safety mobile broadband communications network. Under the 10-year deal, the radio access network will be provided by telco Elisa and the core systems will be supplied by Ericsson.

Erillisverkot is the state-owned, national statutory service operator of the current Virve communications network, through which approximately 80 million messages pass every week.

It will also be the operator of Virve 2.0, the aim of which is to provide secure, reliable and more diverse wireless broadband services to the authorities and other public safety users.

Virve 2.0 will be based on commercial mobile 3GPP technology with enhancements to meet security, availability and resilience.

“The importance of Virve in critical operations cannot be overstated. The next generation of Virve will be one of the most important governmental ICT projects in the coming years, and naturally, a high priority for us at Erillisverkot,” said Timo Lehtimäki, CEO of 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.”

Radio access network

Elisa will provide the 4G and 5G radio access system and expand its geographical coverage area to match the current Virve network.

Elisa serves approximately 2.8 million consumer, corporate and public administration organisation customers, and has over 6.3 million subscribers in its core markets of Finland and Estonia.

Virve 2.0 subscriptions will use Elisa’s public radio network, which the company is expanding for it to become Finland’s largest data and voice 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.

“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.”

“From an international point of view, this will be an extremely high-quality and advanced network for authorities, and Finnish authorities are once again forerunners on a global level,” added Eetu Prieur, director of Elisa’s Mobile Solutions.

“Elisa’s many years of work on improving the quality and reliability of the mobile network are reflected in this selection.”

Core network

Ericsson will supply the core systems for managing the network and key data systems, and for ensuring data security and preparedness.

The system will use Ericsson’s dual-mode 5G Core portfolio on a common cloud-native platform, including Ericsson NFVI, Dynamic Orchestration and VoLTE solutions.

“Critical networks demand the very best standards of reliability, security and performance in the core. 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,” said Arun Bansal, President Europe and Latin America, Ericsson.

“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 procurement will enable Erillisverkot to implement a prioritised broadband connection for public safety authorities and other security operators by the end of the year 2021.

Procurement of applications will be launched later in 2020 to provide communications solutions similar to those of the current Virve network, plus with new functionalities, including a group video call service in 2023.

Virve 2.0 will be fully implemented by the end of 2025, with the current Virve network remaining in use simultaneously until the end of the migration period.

Emergency centres

Finland’s Emergency Response Centre Agency, meanwhile, has become a member of industry body TCCA. The Agency manages six emergency response centres (ERCs) that cover almost all of Finland.

ERCs receive calls to the emergency 112 number that fall within the scope of the rescue, police, social and health services, evaluate the requirements and forward the information to the appropriate authorities or partners.

No other country has a system like this Finnish model, where the same information system is used to manage a single number for all emergency calls, process the data, supplement with additional information if necessary and alert all required units simultaneously.

The ERC Agency receives many international visitors looking to learn from the ERC operations, and has actively assisted several countries including Australia, Estonia, Georgia and Sweden with their emergency response system reforms at both a strategic and practical level.

“In an increasingly challenging world it is essential to have access to the latest news and best practices in terms of new technologies,” said Dan Berlin, ERC Agency Emergency Communications Specialist.

“We are pleased to now be part of TCCA’s membership and look forward to sharing our operational model more widely with an international audience and learning from others in this most critical of areas.”

“The Emergency Response Centre Agency sits at the heart of critical response services for Finland — not as visible to the public as the first responders out in the field but no less crucial,” said TCCA Chief Executive Tony Gray.

“Their innovation and operational model have won admiration from around the world, and we are very proud that they will be sharing their expertise with TCCA’s ecosystem to the benefit of societies worldwide.”

Finland’s ERCs are the first authority link in the chain of assistance and safety provision during an emergency, able to alert all relevant authorities simultaneously via VIRVE.

All six ERCs use the ERICA ERC information system. The networked operating model enables the nationwide balancing of congestion during regional peaks.

Image credit: © Karavanov

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