Broadband aid has accelerated the availability of high-speed connections in Finland – nearly 30,000 kilometres of optical fibre, EUR 60 million of state aid
Since 2011, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom has been granting state aid for broadband construction projects under the Fast Broadband project, which is set to conclude by early autumn 2022 with its last state aid payments. After this, the funding of broadband construction projects will continue via a new broadband aid programme launched in February 2022, which is set to distribute a total of nearly EUR 50 million in state aid.
For just over ten years, Traficom has been granting state aid for broadband construction via the Fast Broadband project. The programme had regional councils plan regional broadband construction programmes with the aim of constructing a total of approximately 40,000 kilometres of new broadband networks. The overall goal was to ensure the availability of high-speed connections to 130,000 households and business locations in sparsely populated areas.
“The need for extensive, high-speed and high-quality broadband networks has increased year after year,” states Deputy Director-General Jenni Eskola. “The state aid has increased digital equality between different areas and helped improve the equal treatment of citizens and their opportunities to participate in civic activity. The resulting high-speed connections have also increased the operating capabilities of companies and the vitality of municipalities across Finland,” summarises Eskola.
The Fast Broadband project achieved its availability target by making high-speed connections available to over 130,000 households and business locations. The total length of the new optical fibre networks built under the project was approximately 27,500 kilometres, falling somewhat shy of the target. By the end of 2022, the total amount of state aid paid in the context of the project will be approximately EUR 60 million.
Projects still in progress completed by the end of 2021
In 2021, the Fast Broadband project focused primarily on the finalisation of projects still in progress, as aid was no longer being granted for new projects and networks under construction needed to be completed by the end of the year. As a result, the total length of new optical fibre networks constructed in 2021 was only slightly over 500 km, when in 2020 it was nearly four times that.
2021 saw the completion of nearly 3,500 new subscriber connections and the sale of nearly 1,000 new subscriptions. By the end of 2021, the number of subscriptions in use was approximately 46,700, comprising nearly a quarter of all fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) connections in Finland.
In 2021, Traficom paid out approximately EUR 2.3 million in state aid, with approximately EUR 3.6 million left to pay in 2022. After this, the Fast Broadband project will be officially over.
New broadband aid programme launched in February 2022
A new broadband aid programme was launched on 3 February 2022 when the new Act on Broadband Construction Aid entered into force. For this new programme, Finland has applied for nearly EUR 50 million in funding from the European Union Recovery Instrument. The amount allocated for this year is EUR 15 million. “We will be supporting the construction of high-speed fixed broadband networks by granting aid for areas where commercial supply is expected to fall short of ensuring availability,” says Senior Specialist Aleksandra Partanen.
The new aid programme has gotten off to a running start. Traficom has already received requests for market analyses for nearly 80 project proposals from 13 regional councils, and the first tendering procedures are already underway in North and South Savo. More tendering procedures will be launched as the market analyses are completed. The purpose of the market analyses is to have Traficom confirm the areas eligible for aid in each project. “We may get to process the first aid applications of the new programme as early as late summer and grant aid to the first project implementers selected based on tendering procedures before the year is over,” clarifies Partanen.
Essi Hytti, Communications Market Specialist, tel. +358 29 539 0535, firstname.lastname@example.org
Aleksandra Partanen, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 29 539 0529, email@example.com, twitter: @ChiliEAP (External link)
In December 2008, the Finnish Government issued a decision in principle that launched the Broadband for All 2015 project. The project, which was later renamed the Fast Broadband project, is set to conclude by the end of 2022.
The new broadband aid programme launched on 3 February 2022 will have Traficom grant state aid for the construction of fixed broadband connections offering minimum download speeds of 300 Mbps and upload speeds of 100 Mbps. Under this programme, aid can be granted for connections to be built for the permanent or holiday homes of households and the business locations of companies. The aid will be granted to broadband network builders selected based on regional tendering procedures.