Finnish regulator Traficom said that in the first six months of 2021, 47 percent of internet traffic was carried on mobile networks, unlike most countries, where the fixed network is the primary data carrier. Coverage of 100 Mbps 5G mobile networks has grown rapidly, and in late June, 5G was available to an estimated 76 percent of households, up from 67 percent at the end of December. Per-capita data use per month averaged 115 GB in the first half.
Traficom said that in Denmark, only about 12 percent of data transfers ran on the mobile network in the second half of 2020. In Germany and the U.K., the rates were about 5 percent. It said many Finnish homes only have a mobile connection available, adding that national mobil network coverage is comprehensive.
Finland’s 5G network now covers 5 percent of the country’s land mass. Traficom said 4G/LTE network coverage has not changed significantly, with service at a minimum of 100 Mbps reaching 93 percent of homes and 18 percent of the country’s land mass.
Traficom said 45 percent of households already have reception from three 5G networks and 62 percent from two 5G networks. More than 160 municipalities have at least one 5G base station.
We have gotten used to seeing “mobile-first” economies in developing countries, where people derive nearly all their access to internet data and telephony from mobile networks, since they never had extensive landline or cable networks. But in Finland, we are seeing very a highly developed telecom environment in an atypical situation in which the balance has tipped toward mobile and away from fixed line internet. This is apparently due to the fact that 5G has matured there, in terms of quality of service and geographical coverage.
Until recently, it has been the received wisdom that mobile is good for many things, but when maximum speed and reliability are needed, fixed internet service is best. With more than half of the data running over mobile networks, Finland and its sophisticated users are pointing the way toward a different paradigm—and possibly toward an all-mobile future.