Finland to Offer High-Speed Broadband for All by 2016

Aim is to boost productivity

The Finnish government said on Sept. 18 it would offer high-speed broadband connections to nearly all Finns by the end of 2015 in a bid to boost productivity, paying up to a third of the cost.

"I have estimated that building fibreoptic cable networks in areas where they would not be built commercially will cost around 200 million euros, of which the government could pay a maximum of one third, so around 67 million euros (US$97 million)," Harri Pursiainen, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, said. He added that telecom operators, regions, municipalities and financial support from the EU were expected to cover the remaining two-thirds of the price tag.

The government hopes to offer a connection speed of at least 100 megabytes per second to all households by 2016, but in a first step it aims to secure broadband of at least one megabyte per second by 2010.

"More than 99% of households are expected to have access (by 2016). A couple of thousand households are situated in areas where getting a fibreoptic connection to two kilometers (1.2 miles) from the house is impossible," Linden said.

The Finnish communications regulatory authority (FICORA) said in June there were some 1.92 million broadband subscriptions in the Nordic country, which has a population of 5.3 million.

High-speed Internet connection is seen as necessary to provide more efficient data transfer for companies and households, which would enable more Finns to work or run small businesses from home and would secure access to online services in remote areas. "We are strongly committed to developing an information society and we want to promote productivity and efficiency," Linden said. She cited as an example some regions in northern Finland where there are vast distances between towns and where video link-ups and other services requiring Internet connections faster than one megabyte per second were a necessary part of daily life.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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