Nordic network operator Telenor yesterday announced the opening of the world’s southernmost commercial base station in Antarctica, setting a new benchmark for connectivity in the harshest of environments. The Norwegian Polar Institute’s research station in Antarctica,
The base station has extended reach, connecting a vast area to the outside world with mobile connectivity. The base station was put into operation in February. What makes this base station truly unique, aside from being the southernmost in the world, is that it’s operated from the world’s northernmost base station at Ny Ålesund which is located on the Svalbard archipelago (formerly known as Spitsbergen). Should the mobile signal fail, a satellite link from Troll to the KSAT-owned TrollSat satellite can also be used to provide wireless connectivity.
Head of Telenor Svalbard, Christian Skottun, emphasizes that a strong collaboration with the Norwegian Polar Institute is the foundation for establishing mobile coverage in Antarctica. “There has been a fruitful dialogue with the Norwegian Polar Institute regarding the possibilities offered by a base station in Antarctica. Telenor, with its presence in Svalbard, has extensive experience in building and operating mobile networks in Arctic regions. Mobile coverage is crucial for both Arctic poles. For research communities, the ability to utilize mobile IoT in gathering data from fieldwork is particularly attractive. Additionally, mobile coverage opens up new possibilities for research and environmental monitoring in the Antarctic oceanic area.”
The primary motivation behind this audacious project is to provide essential mobile coverage to the Norwegian Polar Institute’s research station, Troll, located in Antarctica. Troll serves as a hub for scientific exploration and environmental research, making reliable communication crucial for the success of ongoing projects and the safety of researchers working in the region.
This base station also provides a new dimension of safety as we now are able to offer mobile coverage in the area where the polar research station is located.
Telenor’s base station in Antarctica is claimed to be the world’s most southern commercial base station. (SOURCE: TELENOR)
“Mobile coverage is a step forward for technological development at Troll. In addition, it provides new opportunities for research and monitoring in Queen Maud Land,” says the Director of the Polar Institute, Camilla Brekke.
In addition to close collaboration with the Norwegian Polar Institute, Telenor Svalbard also collaborates with Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT), which is responsible for the communication service from the Troll station. KSAT owns and operates TrollSat, one of the world’s most important ground stations for collecting data from climate and environmental monitoring satellites, co-located with the research station at Troll. KSAT is responsible for transmitting satellite-based information from Troll to users worldwide.
“Full mobile coverage at Troll also helps our users and simplifies communication with the outside world. We are therefore pleased that the satellite link from Troll also can be used for mobile phone traffic,” says Rolf Skatteboe, CEO of KSAT.
Birgitte Engebretsen, CEO of Telenor Norway, is proud and delighted that Telenor has contributed to establishing mobile connectivity between the poles.
“Our societal mission includes providing technology that makes research work easier. We see that the emergence of our new technological solutions opens up new possibilities for research,” says Engebretsen.
Telenor today announced that it ended 2023 strongly with solid top-line growth and strong cash flow both in the fourth quarter and for the full year. Service revenues for the full year 2023 ended up at NOK 62.5 billion, corresponding to an organic increase of 4.0 per cent compared to last year. EBITDA ended at NOK 34.6 billion, corresponding to organic growth of 2.8 per cent compared to the year before. Total free cash flow amounted to NOK 15 billion.
Service revenues for the fourth quarter were NOK 16.1 billion, up 4.9 per cent compared with the same period last year. EBITDA ended at NOK 8.5 billion, corresponding to an organic increase of 3.9 per cent. Free cash flow for the quarter was NOK 4.9 billion before M&A.
“I am very pleased that we continue to deliver growth with new and better products to our customers, at the same time as customer surveys show that we have Norway’s best and fastest network,” says Sigve Brekke, CEO of Telenor. “The fourth quarter was yet another strong quarter for Telenor,” Brekke added.
Telenor Nordics and Telenor Asia delivered four and seven per cent growth in service revenues, respectively, in the final quarter of the year, while organic EBITDA growth ended at five and four per cent.
Fraud is on the rise. In the fourth quarter, Telenor stopped around 300 million attempts at digital crime against Norwegian customers, which is an increase of around 30 percent compared to the previous quarter. In 2023, Telenor stopped 280 million fraud calls globally, out of which 31 million in Norway and 63 million in the Nordic region.
With artificial intelligence, criminal groups have gained access to a new toolbox that creates increased unpredictability. “Whether you’re an individual or a business owner, we are all targets. Therefore, we must adapt, be vigilant and take action to protect our digital lives and values”, says Brekke.
Telenor’s Financial outlook for 2024:
Low single-digit organic growth in Nordic service revenues.
Medium single-digit organic growth in both Nordic and Group EBITDA.
Nordic capex to sales ratio of around 17 per cent.
Free cash flow of between NOK 9-10 billion before M&A and potential items related to prior years’ activities.