Luumäki to receive the first batch of funding from the broadband aid scheme – Saimaan Kuitu Oy granted in excess of 500,000 euros in state aid
The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom has issued the first decision within the new broadband construction aid scheme. The agency granted 593,445 euros of state aid to Saimaan Kuitu Oy for the construction of fast fixed network connections in the municipality of Luumäki. Saimaan Kuitu also constructed networks in South Karelia using state aid in the previous broadband aid scheme. Traficom has granted state aid to broadband construction projects since 2011.
The first decision on state aid has now been issued in the broadband construction aid scheme started in early 2022. Traficom granted the first batch of funding to Saimaan Kuitu Oy, which has previously constructed networks with the help of state aid in Lemi, Savitaipale and Taipalsaari. Saimaan Kuitu, which is a fibre network company owned by three municipalities, is now going to construct optical fibre connections within the municipality of Luumäki. ”We are already a significant regional operator and this is a natural continuation of the current network constructed by Saimaan Kuitu. The shared goal of Saimaan Kuitu and Luumäki is to improve connections throughout the municipality and construct a fibre network in the area. This will boost vitality near the eastern border and improve the security of communications and data transmission in the current changing situation,” says Managing Director Jari Käyhty from Saimaan Kuitu.
Fast connections for municipal vitality
According to information obtained by Traficom, municipalities have led especially lively discussions on the significance of fast optical fibre connections this year. In fact, Traficom has drafted approximately 80 market analyses on existing networks and companies’ investment plans in different municipalities based on discussions with municipalities and regional councils. Based on these analyses, municipalities have been able to start planning feasible projects in more detail. “The municipality of Luumäki wants to offer as efficient and reliable telecommunications connections as possible to both permanent and non-permanent residents. Fast connections will enable productive work, including practical remote working opportunities, and pleasant leisure-time activities in our beautiful municipality full of lakes and natural beauty," says Risto Alaheikka, chief executive of Luumäki. “As an important part of quality of life, optical fibre increases the attractiveness of our municipality and adds to the reasons for people to stay in Luumäki," Alaheikka adds.
The prerequisite for the state aid granted by Traficom is that the municipality where the network is constructed participates in the construction costs by the share specified in the Government decree. The Luumäki municipal executive decided in June that it will contribute to the project funding with the required 33 per cent of the project costs, if Traficom grants state aid for the project.
Plenty of state aid to go around – start your application process in time
The optical fibre project in Luumäki only accounts for less than two per cent of the funds allocated for the broadband construction aid scheme, but Traficom trusts that it will be able to grant aid to even larger construction projects than that of Luumäki towards the end of the year. This year, the biggest investments have been in market analyses. They have been used by municipalities in honing in on the specific areas that would be practical construction sites to serve the users’ interests best. “We believe that next year is going to be busy in terms of issuing aid decisions, as the entire 32 million aid sum must be allocated to projects by the end of next year," says Deputy Director Petri Lehikoinen from Traficom.
The broadband construction aid scheme supports the construction of fast fixed networks in areas where their commercial construction would be unlikely. A total of 32 million euros has been allocated for the scheme in the budget for the years 2022–2023. Funding has been applied for with the EU Recovery and Resilience Facility.
The municipality of Luumäki, located west of Lappeenranta in South Karelia, has 4,500 permanent residents and more than 3,000 leisure-time dwellings as well as excellent traffic connections.