5G comes to Iceland

22.02.2019 - 13:38
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The Icelandic mobile network Nova has started operating its first 5G transmitter, which is the first of its kind in Iceland. The fifth-generation wireless communication network will bring Icelandic consumers up to ten-times-faster mobile internet speeds than the existing 4G system.

Nova plans to bring 5G into general use in Iceland next year, but the first 5G tower has already been erected on the roof of the company HQ at Lágmúli in Reykjavík. The Post and Telecom Administration in Iceland has given Nova a test licence to operate 5G, a company press release states. 

Not every Nova customer will notice the new service when in the vicinity of Lágmúli, however, as smart tech needs a special 5G add-on that is not yet widely available. The first ever 5G smartphone is the Samsung S10, which was released just yesterday at the mobile phone convention in Barcelona. 

Nova CEO Margrét Tryggvadóttir says in the press release that 54 percent of all Icelandic internet traffic last year went through mobile phone networks. “The decision to change over to 5G is a big step in the development of the Nova network and allows the company to meet the ever-growing internet requirements of our customers. We have experienced great interest for us to offer 5G speeds at the same time as they become available in other countries.” 

The Nova 5G transmitter is from Huawei Technologies. In its statement, Nova says the Chinese company is a world leader in developing communications technology and has contracted with over 30 mobile networks in Europe to install 5G. 

Vodafone Iceland also buys communications equipment from Huawei. 

“Last year, Nova invested a billion krónur in development of its network and the company plans to invest around a billion krónur more in 2019,” the statement says. “We expect that 5G will be widely available in 2020 when the number of 5G phones and other equipment supporting extra speed will be on the market.” 

Installation of 5G equipment from China’s Huawei has not been without controversy, however. There are suspicions in Europe and North America that the equipment could be a threat to national security. 

The fear is that the equipment can be used by the Chinese government to eavesdrop on faraway lands. The American authorities are among those with concerns. 

Others claim the fears are unfounded and are being publicised as part of America’s ongoing trade dispute with China. Huawei staff have been accused of spying in Poland and the company CFO was arrested last autumn in Canada.

Security experts in the UK say, however, that they are able to make sure the equipment is secure to use.

Alexander Elliott
Project manager