Virve is becoming a broad-band service – this is how the development is progressing

Finnish authorities’ communications will gradually move towards the broad-band and mobile era in the 2020s. The next generation Virve 2.0 service is an entity coming together like a jigsaw puzzle in collaboration with its users. How is the project coming along?
public safety networks virve virve 2.0 project

At the core of the Virve 2.0 project is the secure and seamless transition from the current Virve to new services. Critical communication and mission control between authorities and other mission critical operators will be safeguarded under all circumstances.

The highly tuned current Virve network for authorities will continue to work seamlessly alongside new services during the migration phase between 2023-2025. At the same time, the development of Virve 2.0 will proceed strongly in the areas of radio networks, information systems, devices, and application services.

Our desire is to conduct the development, testing and piloting of new services in close collaboration with Virve users. Preparing users for the upcoming change will also commence early on. What can they expect and when?

1. Radio network and information systems build the foundation

Erillisverkot procured the foundation for new Virve services in the spring of 2020. Ericsson will provide the Core information systems for Virve services and Elisa will have responsibility over 4G and 5G RAN radio network services. The building and testing phase of these services is currently under way together with the selected partners.

The role of Erillisverkot in the scope of the future Virve services is to oversee the entire system and to act as the service provider together with Valtori.

2. Data and phone subscriptions in use within a year

In order to use the upcoming Virve services ensemble, customers will need different kinds of subscriptions. Data subscriptions will be ready for use towards the end of 2021. Phone subscriptions will likewise be available already at the beginning of the following year.

The attributes of both subscription types will be tested over the summer with small test user groups. More information on the progress of this phase will be given over the course of the spring in user info sessions and workshops.

The currently used Virve phones will be replaced with thoroughly tested new devices during the migration phase.

Virve-devices on a table.

The current Virve phones are replaced with thoroughly tested new devices during the transition period.

3. The continued operation of current Virve will be ensured

The reliable operation of the current authority network will be secured until new services are fully available. Erillisverkot has renewed its Virve maintenance contract with Airbus until 2025 and it will remain as an option until the end of Virve’s migration phase. Press release regarding the topic from January 2021.
The network will not undergo further development during these years, but changes and updates critical to usability will be ensured.

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Virve base stations
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Virve subscriptions

4. New devices available

Radio networks, information systems and subscriptions are used on different kinds of devices. The current Virve phone is commonly seen on the belts or shoulders of different officers. The future scope of devices will be much more varied: users’ hands and eyes may rest upon, for example, smart phones, tablets, smart watches, and rings.

The procurement of devices will also move forward in 2021. The first small batches will be in test use towards the end of 2021 and devices will become more widely available during 2022.

As with all the other areas of the project, Erillisverkot published an international request for information regarding devices in the autumn of 2020. 22 organizations from around the world sent in responses. The English summary of the request for information is available here.

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MILLION WEEKLY MESSAGES SENT IN VIRVE

5. New application services after migration period

During the migration period, the key talk and messaging services will be provided using existing applications in order to safeguard reliable system operations and transition to a new era.

The public competitive tendering and procurement for new application services (talk, data, and video services) will begin in 2024. Erillisverkot will offer for example a group video call service during the migration period.

This is how Virve 2.0 is progressing

  • 2018–2019 Erillisverkot were appointed as the service provider for authorities’ mobile broad-band services. A comprehensive survey of the needs of Virve users along with interviews and workshops was started.
  • 2020 Ericsson was chosen as the provider for core information systems and Elisa was chosen as the radio network provider. Erillisverkot and Airbus Defence and Space, the provider of the current Virve network, renewed their maintenance contract, which will ensure the maintenance and usability of the current Virve during 2021–2025 with an option for an extension if needed.
  • 2021 Mission critical data subscriptions available. Procurement of devices moving forward.
  • 2022 Virve 2.0 services approved for operative use and ready for deployment.
  • 2023–2025 Migration period ongoing: current Virve services and Virve 2.0 functioning side by side.
  • 2024 The public competitive tendering for new applications (talk, data, and video services) will start once most customers have already transitioned to using Virve 2.0 services.
  • 2025– Virve 2.0 services will continue to be developed based on customer needs. The current Virve service contracts will ensure technical support for Tetra networks until 2030.