Technology change progresses in a controlled manner

Last year Sonera announced it would gradually migrate its telecommunications services in sparsely populated areas to the wireless network. Sonera has taken special effort to ensure that the migration from fixed to wireless technology takes place in a flexible and controlled manner. Half of the customers have already switched over to wireless telecommunications services although Sonera has announced its remaining fixed network will continue to operate at least up until the end of 2010.

In February 2008 Sonera had 53,000 fixed telephone and broadband customers in sparsely populated areas. Now their number has dropped to 26,500. The majority of the customers have switched over to the wireless alternative on their own initiative, as the number of customers affected by the technology change along the lines of telephone poles that Sonera is dismantling is only 3,500. As for the remaining fixed-line customers, Sonera has informed them that its fixed voice and broadband services will continue at least up until the end of 2010.

“Migration from fixed to mobile phones is not a new trend. In 2003, Sonera had 800,000 fixed voice customers, and in 2008, only 400,000. Customers are very well informed of the benefits of the mobile phone,” says Juha-Pekka Weckström, Senior Vice President of TeliaSonera Broandband Services Finland.

This year Sonera will transfer the voice services of 3,500 fixed network customers to the mobile network. Sonera has implemented the change in a safe and controlled manner, listening to its customers and carefully complying with the terms that the Ministry of Transport and Communications has set for the change of technology. Sonera has phoned every single customer. Sonera’s customer service agents have made sure that safety telephones and fax machines as well as telephone subscriptions work in the mobile network, and they have advised the customers in need of assistance on how to install and use mobile phone services at home. If an auxiliary antenna has been needed to ensure mobile phone coverage, Sonera has acquired and installed the antenna.

“The migration to wireless broadband has also got off to a good start throughout the country, but we have decided to delay the migration schedule so as to give alternative broadband technologies and financing models time to develop,” says Weckström.

Sonera is actively building the Finnish information society, and the company takes every effort to support the goal of the Ministry of Transport and Communications to promote the provision of high speed and high quality broadband access to everyone in Finland. As the company stated earlier, it will delay the schedule for the technology change to ensure that the development plans it has made for broadband services in sparsely populated areas are in line with the Government’s broadband programme.

“The customers who are anxious about the termination of fixed network services needn’t worry. The customers who have already switched over to mobile phones have been pleased: their call costs have dropped and they have very much appreciated our high-quality mobile services. And if they so want, the remaining voice and broadband customers along the long and little-used pole lines can continue to use Sonera’s services in the fixed network for quite some time,” says Weckström.

For further information journalists can contact:

Juha-Pekka Weckström, Senior Vice President, tel. +358 (0)400 564 754