Estonian ministry to provide EUR 20 mln for building last mile in 5 years

The fee for joining the system will be capped at 200 euros.

“We were able to use European Union funding earlier to pay for the construction of internet networks in small towns and villages, but these funds could not be used to finance bringing the network cable to dwellings,” Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology Urve Palo said in a press release. “The last mile support measure helps to bring the possibility to join high-speed internet to the property limits of houses and apartments.”

The network must be open to all communications service providers who wish to provide their services via the network.

“The business operator that wins the tender is obliged to provide a quality network infrastructure which all communications enterprises will be able to use in the future,” the minister said. Another condition set by the ministry is that the permanent connection must function regardless of natural conditions, the number of users, and weather.

The maximum fee for joining the system is 200 euros and the fee must be equal for everyone regardless of the length of the cable route necessary to establish the connection.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications on Wednesday sent the draft regulation on the internet last mile support measure to other ministries, municipalities and communications companies to get their opinions. The regulation will serve as basis for holding a public competition among communications companies.

Under EU state aid rules, the government may support network construction only in areas where the private sector is not about to make investments for the same purpose in the next five years. To find out about plans of the private sector, the ministry gathered information from the communication companies active in Estonia at the beginning of this year.

There are some 164,000 built land plots in Estonia which have no internet connection, and the measure is intended to help most dwellings occupied round the year to link up to the web. An internet connection enabling download speeds of up to 30 megabits per second qualifies as high-speed internet.

The government in November backed a plan of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications to stage a public competition for building the last mile of the nationwide high-speed internet network, which will provide high-speed internet to low population density areas that the private sector will not invest in on its own. Previously the plan had been to support projects run by municipalities.

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