Finland’s telecom market is among the more dynamic in Europe, particularly in the mobile and broadband sectors. Trial licenses were issued to network operators in early 2018, several tests were held later in the year using spectrum in the 3.5GHz band. The spectrum assignment auction enabled operators to launch commercial services in early 2019.
Finland has one of the highest internet penetration rate with 92.6% by the end of 2017, and also one of the highest in broadband. Finland also retains one of most advanced mobile markets in Europe. The country enjoys one of the highest broadband and mobile penetration rates in the region, with customers able to make use of the latest iterations of technologies including DOCSIS3.1, carrier aggregation with LTE-A, and GPON fibre infrastructure.
Finland has generated one of most advanced mobile markets in Europe, just as it was in the frontline of developments in LTE technology, so it emerged as one of 5G pioneers. This band has been assigned for 5G across Europe. Operators including Elisa and Telia have trialled 5G technologies and claim to be ready to launch services in early 2019 pending the release of 3.5GHz spectrum and the availability of 5G-compliant modems and devices.
Growth in the number of mobile subscribers has decreased in recent years, in line with the high penetration, while the market has moved to mobile data and mobile broadband. Therefore network operators focused on network upgrades, providing improved mobile broadband services to the 99% of the population already covered by LTE.
Finland has a highly industrialized, largely free-market economy. Trade is important, with exports accounting for over one-third of GDP in recent years. The government is open to, and actively takes steps to attract, foreign direct investment.
Finland is historically competitive in manufacturing, particularly in the wood, metals, engineering, telecommunications, and electronics industries. Finland excels in export of technology as well as promotion of startups in the information and communications technology, gaming, cleantech, and biotechnology sectors.
Finland had been one of the best performing economies within the EU before 2009 and its banks and financial markets avoided the worst of global financial crisis. However, the world slowdown hit exports and domestic demand hard in that year, causing Finland’s economy to contract from 2012 to 2014. The economy returned to growth in 2016, posting a 1.9% GDP increase before growing an estimated 3.3% in 2017, supported by a strong increase in investment, private consumption, and net exports. Finnish economists expect GDP to grow a rate of 2-3% in the next few years. In the long term, Finland must address a rapidly aging population and decreasing productivity in traditional industries that threaten competitiveness, fiscal sustainability, and economic growth.
Sonera was the biggest mobile operator in Finland and also one of the biggest providers of landline telephone and Internet services. When TeliaSonera was founded, it was the first time two previous incumbents in two EU countries merged. Historically, however, the companies had already worked together on a number of different projects and complemented each other in various ways. TeliaSonera is the fifth largest telecom operator in Europe today. TeliaSonera also operates in Finland through another company, Tele Finland Oy, a budget mobile operator.