Finland, 1972, plant, relay testing

Turku in Finland was one of the first major cities outside Sweden to which Ericsson began making deliveries in the early 1880s. Thereafter the company's products spread throughout the country. Sales in Finland increased steadily, and in 1918, the subsidiary AB L M Ericsson Finland was established.

Although intended as an installation and sales company for Ericsson products, the company soon began working closely with various telecom operators in the country. Shares in several operating companies were also acquired, but these operations were never extensive. At the peak in 1931, the number of telephones connected to the operating companies in which Ericsson had an ownership share was slightly more than 3,500.

Unlike its Nordic neighbors, Finland had long had several different operating companies, which despite fragmenting the market advanced telecommunications development in the country. Many equipment suppliers tested their new products with local operators, meaning that Finland was often quick to adopt new technology.

In 1934, Ericsson sold its shares in Finnish operating companies to the Finnish government, which was slowly but surely taking over the country's telecom networks. The government guaranteed that Ericsson would become "most favored supplier" following these sales, and this also became the case. Exports to Finland from the parent company increased sharply during the late 1930s.

Finland also became the most important export country during World War II. Telephone equipment was needed, and trading between Sweden and Finland was maintained at nearly normal levels during the war.

In part due to strong Finnish opinion favoring national self-sufficiency, Ericsson built a production plant in Helsinki during the war years. At first, operations consisted primarily of assembly, but manufacturing was started during the post-war years.

Finland, like its Nordic neighbors, continued to be an important export market for Ericsson. When major investments in export markets were made during the 1950s, however, the share of exports to Finland, as well as to Denmark and Norway, declined.

In 1965, Finland's share of Ericsson's total foreign sales was five percent. This figure was the same in 1974. During this period, Ericsson's Finnish subsidiary Oy L M Ericsson was the country's dominant manufacturer of telecom equipment.

In 1973, Ericsson received its first foreign order for an AXE station from the Turku Telephone Authority. The following year, an order was received for a large AKE station for national and international calls that was to be installed in Helsinki.

Turku's AXE station was taken into operation in 1977. It served as an excellent reference object for customers who were interested in AXE, since Turku was not far from Ericsson's head office in Stockholm.

Finland's first NMT mobile telephone network was supplied by Ericsson and taken into operation in 1981. This marked the start of very rapid growth in mobile telephony in Finland and Sweden. At the beginning of the new century, the two countries lead global statistics for mobile phone penetration.

As if this were not enough, Sweden's Ericsson and Finland's Nokia are the market leaders among suppliers of mobile systems and telephones. Although they are two small countries, Finland and Sweden are among the giants with respect to advanced communications technology.

Finland, 1982, Tampere telephone mast

© Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and Centre for Business History

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