Overcoming extremes to connect Greenland to the internet
Since 2017, Ericsson has been upgrading the network of TELE-POST to LTE in Greenland. We have been deploying networks in ice, snow and extreme environmental conditions to provide internet for all.
The people of Greenland mainly live in coastal areas. The population of 56,000 can fit into a major football stadium, but it is scattered across an area as big as Paraguay. This wide geographical area, combined with extreme environmental conditions of snow, cold and darkness during half of the year, creates tremendous challenges for mobile operators and internet service providers.
Since 2017, Ericsson has had the opportunity to modernize the network of telecom operator TELE-POST in Greenland, in order to upgrade capabilities and provide LTE coverage and thus also enable mobile broadband. Greenland is an island of contradictions: despite its names, three-quarters of it is covered by permanent ice sheets. It is the largest island in the world, but also the least densely populated territory in the world. It's a high-income country, but at least one quarter of Greenlanders still live in tiny settlements. Towns can be relatively close to each other, but none of them are connected by roads.
The modernization of the network has involved both site upgrades, but also the roll-out of a backhaul microwave transport network covering distances more than 1400 km. By the upgrade and modernization, TELE-POST could increase the customer experience by the introduction of reliable mobile broadband solutions and at the same time lower or fix the total cost of ownership for the network. This is an example of how cost efficient 4G deployments can contribute both to the operators' business and improve people's lives and the society by connecting the unconnected with mobile broadband solutions.
Positive impact of mobile broadband on people, business and society
As described in our latest Mobility Report; globally, the main way of accessing the internet is through mobile networks and a mobile device; however, more than 40 percent of the world's population still has no broadband internet access. An overwhelming majority of the population without internet access lives in developing countries. However, in some cases, industrialized and high-income areas of the world still do not have access to high speed internet services. Until now, Greenland has been such an area of the world.
A large part of the world has existing mobile network coverage. The problem is that in many cases, these are 2G networks without any mobile broadband capabilities. In areas with existing 2G coverage, upgrading the sites to 3G, 4G or 5G New Radio (NR) will provide mobile broadband network coverage. This would require a low incremental investment as most of the costly items – including towers, power, security and backhaul – are already available at the existing site.
Digitalization is a fundamental catalyst of change. Digital technologies can, for example, provide access to basic services such as e-health and e-learning as well as increasing industrial efficiency and enable climate change mitigation efforts. That's why we are a supporter of the 2030 Sustainability Development Goals.
There is also a clear correlation between internet penetration and economic growth. Recent joint research between Ericsson and Imperial College shows that a 10 percent increase in internet penetration causes an 0,8 percent increase in GDP.
Regardless of how challenging the project is or extreme the weather conditions, Ericsson remains motivated to bring about positive change in the world. That's something I'm supremely proud to be a part of.