Telenor Svalbard celebrates 100 years in the Arctic

Press release
4 minute read
Telenor opened its first telegraph station in Svalbard in 1911, and now - after 100 years - Svalbard is probably among the world's most digitalised communities in the world. On Sunday 29 May, the celebration was kicked off by Telenor's chairman Harald Norvik and CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas, opening the world's northernmost 4G/LTE network in Longyearbyen.
The LTE test launch adds to a number of "northernmosts" - most northerly domestic fiber services, northernmost 2G, 3G, satellite station, and other ground-breaking records.

Telenor Svalbard's global role

Looking back, apart from a few years during Word War 2 where Svalbard Radio was put out of service, Telenor Svalbard has been in full operation for 100 years. Over the centennial, Telenor Svalbard has opened up the Arctic to a number of global users - the shipping industry since the sinking of Titanic, Amundsen and Nobiles' dramatic flight ventures, the airlines' first Euro-American routes over the Arctic. Today, one vital role is the transmission of all environmental, weather and climatic data from satellites crossing the Arctic ice sheet. 14 satellites report to the world's hubs via Telenor's global network. Through northern coastal radio stations, it also serves Norway's International Maritime Organization (IMO) responsibility for safety at sea, covering an area from Scotland to the North Pole.

Telecommunications in no man's land

Around 1900, when industrialization and mining industry was starting to take off in the Arctic, Svalbard was increasingly becoming attractive to various nations and great powers.

On May 3, 1911, the Norwegian parliament agreed that a radio telegraph station was to be built on Svalbard. The station was named Spitsbergen Radio and originally built in Green Harbour linking Svalbard to the Norwegian mainland. The Norwegian authorities regarded this substantial investment as an opportunity to strengthen their presence and thus acquiring a stronger foothold on Svalbard.

The establishment of what later became Telenor Svalbard, was pivotal in securing Norway sovereignty over Svalbard when The Svalbard Treaty was signed in 1920.

Telenor Svalbard today

Svalbard/Spitsbergen is the natural location for Arctic research activities, including multinational, Norwegian, and Polish research stations. While its location and landscape does imply challenges, the modern infrastructure and the very latest technology at hand make anything possible - even in the midst of a freezing wasteland. The city and the inhabitants of Longyearbyen have, on several occasions, served as a test bed for Telenor's implementation of technological improvements and new services. In spite of their remote location, today's inhabitants of Longyearbyen are taking advantage of the latest in technology in their daily lives - such as interactive IPTV, fiber to the home, Triple-Play, and mobile broadband.

Ingunn Anstensrud, Communication Manager, Telenor Group
Tel: +47 95203575, E-mail: