TeliaSonera Finland has announced that it will replace 3,500 fixed lines in rural areas with wireless alternatives in 2009, but will review plans for a further 35,000 lines. This is a change from previously announced plans to convert the entire fixed line network, with the decision understood to have been made to allow alternative technologies and financing models develop. Juha-Pekka Weckstrom, senior vice-president of TeliaSonera Broadband Services Finland, commented, ‘As regards the remaining 35,000 fixed line customers, we have decided to extend the schedule of the technology change in their case. The services of these 20,000 fixed line voice customers and 15,000 broadband customers will remain unchanged at least until the end of 2010.’ The decision is thought to have also been prompted by recently announced regulations by the government that stipulates public funding can be used when the target level of the broadband programme cannot be achieved commercially.
TeliaSonera Finland’s fixed line network stretches approximately 40,000km across sparsely populated areas, and the operator had previously revealed plans to dismantle 10,000km that is in the worst condition during spring 2009; this infrastructure is not currently in commercial use. The operator’s wireless network now reportedly covers 97% of Finland’s geographical area, and 100% of its population, and TeliaSonera plans to install 40 new base stations in rural areas by the end of 2008, and a further 60 UMTS 900 base stations in sparsely populated regions in 2009.