Table of Contents

  • The Nordic region should be the “first and most integrated 5G region in the world”, and the region should become a “common Nordic 5G space”. Those goals were stated in a Letter of Intent (LoI) signed in April 2018 by the prime ministers of the Nordic countries. This letter followed the Nordic-Baltic ministerial declaration Digital North, adopted a year earlier.

  • The spring of 2019 marked the start of commercially available 5G services. In South Korea, the USA and several other countries, the first commercial 5G networks have already been rolled out, with some 10 million 5G subscribers expected by the end of the year. The Nordic and Baltic region will, along with other countries in Europe, debut commercial 5G during 2019–2020, with subsequent rollouts over the coming years.

  • The 5G movement is quite complex, with many different driving forces. Geographically, it’s fair to say that Finland is a bit ahead of the other Nordic and Baltic countries, with Sweden coming in second. Norway and Denmark are accelerating.

  • It’s quite clear from the interviews done for this survey that the transition from 4G to 5G will be gradual and take several years. The promises of 5G – massive broadband, low latency, network slicing and the ability to handle a large number of nodes – can for many use cases be fulfilled by 4G and the 4G derivative NBIoT, Narrowband Internet of Things. Commercial NB-IoT networks are already up and running, and since no “killer application” for 5G has been identified that will by itself pay for the rather big investments associated with 5G for spectrum and for equipment, the conclusion is that the demand for 5G will initially result in a patchwork of hotspots interacting with existing 4G networks. Early business cases will probably be found in local spots where decision chains are relatively fast, e.g. digitalisation of a factory or a port. Businesses with more complex decision chains, e.g. within health or emergency services, will need more time to develop 5G use cases, and by that time the 5G coverage will probably also have increased to support their needs better.

  • The mapping of 5G testbeds, trials and projects indicates a huge and widespread commercial, governmental and academic interest in the new opportunities offered by the technology. If a bet should be placed on where the Nordic-Baltic region could take a global lead, the odds would probably favour the manufacturing industries. This area has many test activities in the region and has sound financial reasons for adopting 5G quite early. An outsider could be agriculture. As shown above, agriculture, including aquaculture and forestry, is a field where the Nordic-Baltic strengths could be combined into a potential 5G powerhouse.

  • The Nordic Council of Ministers commissioned RISE in March 2019 to carry out a baseline study for a cross-sectorial mapping of 5G testbeds with the following tasks and deliverables:

  • Initially, this survey was supposed to cover testbeds divided into five verticals: Transport, Mission-critical Communications, Manufacturing Industry, Energy Environment Agriculture and Aquaculture, and Health and Welfare. For practical purposes, the mapping was extended to seven verticals, adding Smart Cities and 5G Research and Development to the original list.