Ny-Ålesund on Svalbard is the last Norwegian settlement without mobile coverage. Now this small community is also connected to Telenor's mobile network as the world's northernmost base station opened Monday.
79 degrees north and 1,111 kilometers from the North Pole lies Ny-Ålesund, a small community on Svalbard that was established for mining. Today, Ny-Ålesund is home to the world's northernmost, permanent civilian research station, and houses researchers from more than ten countries who are affiliated with the research station.
The head of Telenor Svalbard, Christian Skottun, says in a press release that good cooperation with the local environment is the reason that mobile coverage in Ny-Ålesund can be established. Especially Kings Bay and the Norwegian Polar Institute.
"There has been a good dialogue with Kings Bay AS and the Norwegian Polar Institute about the possibilities a mobile network in Ny-Ålesund provides. It provides increased safety and preparedness, and new opportunities for research and environmental monitoring in the Kongsfjorden area. The mobile phone not only connects you to the most important people in your life, but also provides access to important services such as BankID and two-factor authentication", says Skottun.
Kings Bay AS is wholly owned by the state of Norway through the Ministry of Climate and the Environment, and owns and operates the infrastructure in Ny-Ålesund. CEO of Kings Bay, Lars Ole Saugnes is positive about mobile coverage.
"The world's northernmost society is now getting closer to normal society in a positive sense. Mobile coverage will enable us to take advantage of the benefits of mobile communication while increasing security for everyone who lives here, so this is a big day", says Saugnes.
World-class mobile coverage in the world's northernmost settlement
"We started talks with Kings Bay back in 2001 about establishing mobile coverage, and there are many reasons why the residents of Ny-Ålesund are only getting mobile coverage now. It is expensive to establish coverage here, but it has been just as important to take into account that sensitive measuring equipment is not exposed to radio interference", says Director of Coverage at Telenor, Bjørn Amundsen.
As a consequence of this, it is not permitted in Ny-Ålesund to use wireless networks and to send and receive data wirelessly. Now that mobile coverage has been established, Telenor ensures that everyone on arrival in Ny-Ålesund receives a text message that they must switch off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on all equipment they have with them.
Bjørn Amundsen points out that mobile phone coverage in Ny-Ålesund is primarily established to increase social security, and a good dialogue has been a prerequisite for the establishment.
Kings Bay AS makes areas available for location and supplies power supply and local fiber connection. Telenor bears the costs of radio equipment, antennas and connections to and from Ny-Ålesund.
"It is impressive that together we have established world-class mobile coverage in the world's northernmost settlement", says Amundsen.
Must learn mobile culture
Signe Maria Brunk, receptionist at Kings Bay AS, tells Svalbardposten that the big topic of conversation in the village now is what everyday life is like with a mobile phone.
"We have to learn about mobile culture and would like to preserve some of the calmness and uniqueness of this settlement."
Now the residents are debating whether they should have mobile phone-free zones.
"After all, it is more pleasant to talk together than to just concentrate on the mobile phone", says Brunk.
Research station on Svalbard with an emphasis on studies of the Arctic and climate change.
Several national and international research institutions are associated with the research station.
Northernmost settlement in the world.
The origin of the settlement was mining in the 20th century.
The station is also known for its beautiful and desolate arctic landscape, with spectacular views of glaciers and fjords.
Ny-Ålesund is one of the few places where you can see both the midnight sun in summer and the polar night in winter.
The community in Ny-Ålesund is small, with a limited number of permanent residents, who are responsible for running the community and for following up on research projects and environmental monitoring.
Ny-Ålesund plays an important role in the monitoring and understanding of climate change in the Arctic, making it a strategic location for global climate studies.