The future of mobility: Telecommunications operator explores smart mobility
Sonera’s roots date all the way back to 1855, when the Grand Duchy of Finland was an autonomous part of the Russian Empire. Today, Sonera is a modern Nordic provider of network access and telecommunications services. Like most telecommunications operators, it is facing a constant challenge of matching its investments in capacity and security with the ever-growing amount of data in its mobile network. This challenge has prompted the company to explore new business opportunities while carrying on with its established operations.
“Smart mobility is a very promising field. Our experience as a service operator and our knowledge of the consumer, corporate and public sectors offer a good base for acting as a smart mobility operator,” says Business Development Director Jouni Sintonen from Sonera.
What kinds of solutions do you offer for future smart mobility?
“We are working now on two mobility solutions. One is called Matkalainen, Traveler. It is a mobile information service for private car users. It provides information before, during and after travel, allowing users to plan trips and adjust their plans with up-to-date information for example on driving conditions, accidents and traffic jams. It also helps find a more economic driving technique and offers statistics on previous trips.”
“We are also developing a Mobility as a Service (MaaS) solution, geared towards consumers who don’t have a car or don’t want to use it all the time. The mobile service builds a travel chain for the desired route using trains, taxis and buses, and frees the user from the jungle of multiple schedules and tickets. It allows the consumer to pay just one fare for the entire travel chain and channels the fare to individual travel operators. Ticket information is delivered to the user through the application.”
Which practical problems do your smart mobility solutions solve, and whose daily life do they facilitate?
“Matkalainen facilitates the daily life of individual car users by providing traffic information before and during travel. This brings flexibility, saves time and fuel, and improves traffic safety. Our MaaS solution will facilitate the use of public transportation and perhaps help families cope with just one car. On a large scale, it will help cut traffic emissions, decrease traffic jams and improve traffic safety.”
How far are you now with the development of your smart mobility solutions?
“We’ve been piloting Matkalainen since last spring, and the mobile application can be downloaded for free from IoS, Android and Windows Phone app stores. We are collaborating with Pohjola Vakuutus insurance company and will soon start cooperation with a car dealer. If our users give these companies access to their travel information, they get benefits in exchange, for example reduced prices. We will very soon decide about the future of Matkalainen, probably to launch a further developed version in early 2016.”
“We will pilot our MaaS service in spring 2016 together with several partners, for example Finland’s national railway operator VR, several cities and regional traffic operators, as well as the Finnish Taxi Owners’ Federation. After a three-month pilot period, we will decide about further development and commercial launch, which will hopefully take place during 2016.”
What plans do you have for the future? What kinds of challenges and goals do you have regarding the internationalization of your services?
“We will continue to develop both services. Our MaaS service will probably include shared bicycles and cars as well as rental cars in the future. Its pricing offers numerous possibilities, for example payment accounts and monthly packages. It could also include things like concert tickets and hotel fees, in addition to transportation.”
“We are developing and testing our services in Finland. If they prove successful here, we will also launch them in other markets where we are already present, mainly the Nordic and Baltic countries. These areas are relatively uncomplicated, as their traffic infrastructure and service models are somewhat similar.”
Is Finland a good country for developing smart mobility solutions? Why?
“Finland started discussing and weighing the possibilities of smart mobility quite early, which has created a favorable atmosphere for developing new mobility solutions. It is a small country, where companies and public authorities have good contacts and few conflicting interests. Finland has also a high smart phone penetration.”
Technology already offers lots of possibilities but the challenge often lies in getting people to use new solutions. How do you think we could encourage people to use smart mobility solutions?
“One of the goals of our pilot projects is to find an optimal level of benefits to encourage consumers to continue using the services. There is no single right answer to this problem – different users must be targeted with different benefits. But first and foremost, a new service must always answer a consumer’s need.”
- Founded: Sonera’s roots go all the way back to 1855 and the Russian Empire’s telegraph company. Sonera’s history in Finland dates to 1917 and the Finnish Telegraph Agency. TeliaSonera Group is the result of Sonera’s merger with the Swedish Telia in 2002.
- Industry: Telecommunications
- Headquarters: Helsinki, Finland (Sonera); Stockholm, Sweden (TeliaSonera)
- Number of employees: 3,650 (Sonera); 26,000 (TeliaSonera)
- Annual turnover in 2014: 1,418 MEUR (Sonera); 11,106 MEUR (TeliaSonera)
- Website: www.sonera.fi, www.teliasonera.com
- Internationalisation services for Finnish companies: www.exportfinland.fi
- Test and develop your product in Finland
- Discover business opportunities in the Helsinki region
Text: Anu Jussila