In liaison with Chinese ICT giant Huawei, Faroese Telecom rolls out the latest 4G LTE technology to cover every inch of the Faroe Islands, staking claim on world leadership in mobile connectivity with average speeds rapidly approaching 100 Mbps.
[By B. Tyril]
Joining Faroese Telecom as CEO in November last year (2015), Jan Ziskasen clearly adds a distinct dynamic to the company’s management and, for that matter, the entire Faroese business community. Shortly before his 48th birthday, he returned to his native Faroe Islands after an impressive, two-decade career in Copenhagen, Stockholm, London and Chicago with international conglomerate Kraft Foods (recently renamed Kraft Heinz), where he served as Chief Technology Officer before he decided to make the switch.
“Making a difference for my community is one of my main motivators,” Mr. Ziskasen said shortly after signing on with FT.
He meant it. Only a few months into his tenure, his team was well on their way to completing a dramatic upgrade of the mobile communications infrastructure of the Faroe Islands together with the Chinese information and technology giant Huawei.
“Our country’s internet connectivity is now world-class,” Mr. Ziskasen said with a reference to the current rollout of new technology in the form of 4G LTE and a dramatically improved 2G and 3G infrastructure, a process that is well underway to cover the whole country and is projected to be completed later this year.
Already by mid-April, FT had completed the replacement of its old mobile telephony network, including every transmission station and every mast, moving from an aging Ericsson system to the latest cutting-edge technology from Huawei.
The safe and well tested, new technology is exactly the same at all points throughout the network and the revamped infrastructure will provide complete coverage across all of the islands, according to Mr. Ziskasen.
Welcome to the future
To fully cover every community down to the very last few, however, some work will have to be performed on existing infrastructure in a few locations.
“Our vision is that everyone in the country should have equal access to world-class mobile internet and telephony,” Mr. Ziskasen noted. “To achieve this completely and make sure everyone has access to the 4G LTE network, we need to further develop the underlying communications network in some areas; this includes work on a few stretches of fibre optics, radio links, cables, and some licenses to obtain. There will be the proverbial heavy lifting in a few places and some excavation, which may take a little time. It has to do with reduced signal penetration in some villages and areas with certain juxtapositions of mountainous terrain. Nonetheless, at this point we have reached an estimate 95-percent coverage of the country with the latest mobile technology, and we expect to get to 100 percent by the end of this year.”
Many villages which up until now only had 2G technology available have thus been upgraded to 3G with some of them even going straight from 2G to 4G LTE. Tiny Koltur, for example, moved from poor 2G coverage to good 2G and 3G with 4G LTE expected later this year. Other small villages, like Æðuvík, Gjógv, Selatrað, and Tjørnuvík, have already made the upgrade from 2G to 4G LTE, in one step.
With 4G LTE technology, which is exclusive for mobile internet, made available to virtually every corner of the country, the Faroe Islands comparative to other countries, is taking a leading position worldwide.
The internet speed offered throughout the islands, on average, will be close to 100 Mbps, with a theoretical speed of up to 250 Mbps.
“If we compare to South Korea, allegedly the world’s top nation in 4G LTE connectivity, the average speed there is about 60 Mbps,” Mr. Ziskasen said. “Well, we are in the process of overtaking them as the average speed here is approaching 100 Mbps, and likely even higher before long.”
Meanwhile, the 3G network delivers mobile telephony as well as internet and with its new technology in the Faroe Islands, the old 21 Mbps capacity is now also doubled to an average 42 Mbps.
“Several of the smaller villages that are waiting for 4G LTE internet have in the meantime received the upgraded 3G capacity where the flow between 3G and 4G LTE is seamless to users, who will not notice any difference when switching between the two.”
“There is more to come,” according to Mr. Ziskasen.
“Our ambition is to always be amongst the best in the world and therefore we want to further increase the capacity of our 4G LTE network. Once we launch the 800MHz long range frequency later this year, we’ll have a theoretical speed of up to 400 Mbps. And that is truly speed in your pocket.”