Aid for broadband construction expands to holiday homes and fixed wireless access in the 5G network
While the “Nopea laajakaista” (High-Speed Broadband) project is on the home stretch, support for construction will continue, as a new aid project received EUR 5 million in additional funding. The new aid project covers connections to holiday homes and fixed wireless access (FWA) based on the 5G technology. The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom) grants state aids for broadband construction projects.
At the end of 2020, the High-Speed Broadband project had helped to build more than 27,000 kilometres of new fibre networks. During 2020, some 2,000 kilometres of new networks were built.
The pace of construction has evened out, an extension has been granted for construction
The construction of high-speed broadband networks slowed slightly during the past year due to such factors such as the coronavirus pandemic and reductions in the numbers of network contractors. As the project moved closer to the finishing line, the number of projects in progress also decreased which was directly reflected in the numbers of built kilometres.
A one-year extension period was provided for the use of aid granted from the broadband aid programme. Now, the deadline for aid applications is 31 December 2021 instead of the previous 28 February 2021. This provides applicants with an additional construction period which has attracted many parties. Currently, construction is in progress in roughly ten projects. Traficom must pay all state aid by the end of 2022.
Some 167,000 fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connections in use – a quarter of these built through the High-Speed Broadband project
During 2020, a total of 10,000 connections were completed and 3,000 new subscriptions were sold under the High-Speed Broadband project. Some 42,500 fibre subscriptions were in use at the end of 2020, comprising a quarter of all FTTH subscriptions in Finland. In 2020, there were a total of 167,000 FTTH subscriptions in Finland. All in all, more than 58,000 subscriptions have been sold through the High-Speed Broadband project.
EUR 4,000 of public aid per each network kilometre
“The goal of the High-Speed Broadband project was that some 40,000 kilometres of new fibre networks would be built using state aid. This would enable the availability of high-speed connections in 130,000 households and companies in sparsely populated areas”, says Communications Market Specialist Essi Hytti. “If the projects that are still in progress are completed as planned, the goal of 130,000 households and companies can be achieved and the limit of 30,000 network kilometres can be exceeded”, says Hytti.
Currently, the High-Speed Broadband project involves some 140 finished projects, in which construction has been completed and aid have been paid. Aid still remains to be paid for some 30 projects. A total of EUR 90 million have been paid in public aids for the finished projects, of which state aids account for EUR 46 million. Regional Centres for Economic Development, Transport, and the Environment (ELY) have paid EUR 18 million in aid from the Rural Development Programme for Mainland Finland, and municipalities have paid a total of EUR 26 million from their statutory payments. The finished projects consist of 22,500 built network kilometres and 39,000 new connections, of which 32,000 are in use.
In the finished projects, the public aid paid per each built network kilometre amounts to approximately EUR 4,000 per kilometre. EUR 2,300 in public aid has been paid per each new connection and EUR 2,800 per each subscription in use. When comparing the total realised costs of projects to the number of built network kilometres, the average price of construction per metre has been roughly EUR 12 per metre in state-subsidised projects.
The new act on broadband construction aid also enables support for broadband construction in the future
Unlike in the previous broadband aid programme, the aid now covers holiday homes and FWA based on the 5G technology in addition to fibre networks. According to the Government decree, broadband builders can receive aid for connections with a download speed of at least 100 megabits per second and an upload speed of at least 40 megabits per second. During peak hours, minimum speeds must be at least 70/28 Mbit/s. The new act on broadband construction aid entered into force on 1 January 2021.
Essi Hytti, Communications Market Specialist, tel. +358 295 390 535, firstname.lastname@example.org