Network sharing is a favourable solution for operators wanting to optimise network performance, coverage, and costs. Careful planning and design is needed in network sharingto gain full benefits and to ensure optimal performance to end-customers.
In Finland, DNA Oyj and Telia Finland Oyj founded the Suomen Yhteisverkko Oy 
(Finnish Shared Network in English) in August 2014 to design, implement and maintain a radio access network in Eastern and Northern Finland. Initially the network covered approximately half of Finland’s total geographical area and served approximately 15% of the Finnish population. The footprint of the network is currently expanding.
We had an opportunity to interview Antti Jokinen, CEO of Suomen Yhteisverkko Oy last month and ask him what kind of benefits he has experienced with network sharing.
The Suomen Yhteisverkko is a network operator, thus it does not offer subscriptions or end customer services. The network is offered as a service to both DNA and Telia. The network sharing principle is based on MOCN (Multi Operator Core Network) RAN concept as standardised by 3GPP.
On-going Projects with Suomen Yhteisverkko
5G rollout – Currently Suomen Yhteisverkko is modernising its radio access network and introducing 5G into its network. “We want to bring the 5Geverywhere. Most of the rollouts take about 5 years. Last time, we started the4G rollouts in 2014 and we finished in 2017, which gave us only 5 years of stability before having to renew to the newest generation 5G” says Antti Jokinen, CEO of Suomen Yhteisverkko Oy
Geographical expansion: – Service area of Suomen Yhteisverkko is increasing. “Currently, we are expanding to other cities and areas in Finland, like Kuopio, Mikkeli, Oulu and Kotka. After the expansion is finalised, we will cover 62.5% of the country and 28.5% of the population.”
Benefits of network sharing
Improved coverage and quality of service to end-customers: More sites and optimal locations provide improved coverage for both Telia and DNA customers. Combined frequency assets offer larger spectrum capacity for shared network that can be optimised to offer higher data rates and better quality of service to end-customers.
Accelerate the time needed to deploy national networks: Achieving a faster network deployment, particularly outside the main urban areas, is challenging and requires innovative solutions. The cooperation has made the development of the mobile network faster and more cost-efficient, delivering the services of DNA and Telia faster throughout Finland.
Cost efficiency: Sharing the mobile infrastructure lowers the cost of mobile network deployment, especially in rural and sparsely populated areas, like Eastern and Northern Finland.
Omnitele has collaborated with Suomen Yhteisverkko since its formation in 2014. Omnitele has been responsible of the radio network planning and optimisation of the network since the beginning, starting with site selection for the combined network, continuing with detailed site planning and continuous optimisation of the network. At the moment, Omnitele is working with network modernisation planning, including the introduction of 5G.
Currently Omnitele is also supporting with the geographical expansion and is responsible for the consolidation planning while combining existing networks to one shared network. “It is good to have an opinion from an associate like Omnitele while doing the network planning. The transformation is not an easy thing to do, but Omnitele is helping us with the planning on how to merge these networks” Jokinen notes.
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