Three Sweden leases public spectrum for private usage to stop spectrum carve-up
Network operator Three has rented out 50MHz of its 2.6 GHz frequency holding in Sweden in bid to boost local industry and stop regulator PTS carving-up the 3.5 GHz band for private usage.
Three Sweden has struck a deal with Finland-based “micro-network” operator Ukkoverkot to lease part of its LTE spectrum. Ukkoverkot will use the spectrum to build private LTE networks for industrial customers. It has a record in Finland of providing private networks to air and sea ports.
The deal is one of the first by a commercial operator to make available part of its spectrum for private usage. Rental of local permits from commercial operators will make spectrum utilisation more efficient, noted Three Sweden (Tre, officially Hi3G Access), owned by CK Hutchison.
“There is a shortage of spectrum in Sweden,” noted Per Stigenberg, chief technology officer of Three Sweden. The deal is also designed to steer the local regulator in Sweden towards a new spectrum model for industry, which encourages traditional mobile operators to sub-license spectrum for specialist usage, instead of forcing regulatory intervention to allocate and subsidise spectrum for local industry.
Current proposals by the Swedish telecoms regulator, the Post and Telecom Authority (PTS), recommends 25 per cent of the 3.5 GHz band in Sweden is reserved for local LTE licenses.
“lt will mean that large parts of the frequency space will be deserted, which is detrimental to Sweden as a 5G nation. We believe that local rental of frequencies from mobile operators can be an effective solution, so that both national and local needs can be satisfied,” said Stigenberg
The deal with Ukkoverkot is the first of many leasing deals Three Sweden, owned by CK Hutchison, plans to offer to specialist industry providers. Future deals will require approval from PTS, it noted. The model will “one of several ways” to solve the need for local spectrum.
“Partners such as Ukkoverkot are aimed at larger industrial companies with communication needs over buildings and production areas that the companies themselves own and control,” said Stigenberg.
“In the future, we do not see it as impossible that even smaller companies and businesses can be covered.”
Three Sweden has agreed to allow Ukkoverkot to make use of part of its 2.6 GHz TDD frequency holding (LTE band 38). Ukkoverkot is expanding beyond Finland, its home country, to offer private LTE networks in Sweden, among other countries.
The deal shows the way for national operators to collaborate on network provision in new industrial markets, reckons Three Sweden. Stigenberg said: “This is a good example of how national operators can co-operate with specialised players in providing tailor-made local mobile solutions to industries in the Swedish market.
“These are mobile solutions on which industry specific applications can be built. Building local LTE networks provides a much more efficient use of spectrum compared to allocating entire spectrum chunks nationwide. We have great expectations on this co-operation with Ukkoverkot.”
The deal is Ukkoverkot’s first outside of Finland. Ukkoverkot has worked closely with compatriot telecoms vendor Nokia, to date, on a number of private LTE deployments in Finland. The pair signd a four-year deal last month to bring connectivity, automation, and intelligence to the Port of Kokkola in Finland.
The Port of Kokkola is the third largest ‘general’ port in Finland. It is also the third Finnish port to appoint Nokia and Ukkoverkot to deploy a private LTE networking solution on site, after deals in March with the Port of Oulu and late last year with the Port of HaminaKotka. Ukkoverkot provides LTE to Helsinki airport. It is also working with Konecranes, Sandvik, and Finavia.
Ukkoverkot said private LTE establishes a springboard to offer advanced industrial analytics and automation services that will come of age with 5G. “Private LTE networks constitute a cost-effective way to immediately leverage the opportunities provided by the 5G era,” the firm said.
“Tomorrow’s connectivity will be built on private local LTE networks that function on their own radio frequency. Automation, robotics, machine learning and real-time remote monitoring boost cost efficiency and increase customer value.”
Mikko Uusitalo, chief executive at Ukkoverkot, said: “The Swedish market has significant potential for private LTE, and Ukkoverkot is poised to duplicate the private LTE business concept which we have proven in Finland.
“We are happy to be able to offer secure high-performance connectivity solutions, demanded by our industrial customers and required by modern digitalization as a service, in wider areas for local and global pioneers. With this, we also strengthen our internationally strong partnerships with key actors in the telecom industry ecosystem.”
Finnish vendor Nokia has calculated no fewer than 14.58 million potential venues for private LTE, and later private 5G – which is more than the seven million base stations for standard mobile networks. Among this number, it has identified 10 million factories, three million warehouses, 263,000 hospitals and labs, 140,000 water utilities, 54,000 mines, 50,000 transport hubs, 47,600 power stations, 10,000 military bases, 8,000 oil and gas plants.
Nokia has claimed a number of private-LTE wins in recent months, including with China Unicom for a BMW plant in China, with Brazilian power distributor Elektro, with ABB and Kalmar for electricity grids, and with the Hamburg Port Authority and Deutsche Telekom.