Finland’s government has proposed that financial aid for the construction of high speed broadband will ‘begin anew’ in 2021. In a press release, the Ministry of Transport and Communications (Liikenne-ja viestintaministerio, MoTC) said that EUR5 million (USD5.9 million) has been allocated for the construction of broadband networks next year. Under a proposed aid scheme, the ministry expects around 10,000 new households could gain access to high speed broadband by targeting areas where no commercial infrastructure is expected to be deployed before 2025.
According to the MoTC, a minimum connection speed to qualify for aid is to be set out in a government decree, while it is understood that both fixed and fixed-wireless broadband technologies will be permitted under the scheme. Aid for network construction will reportedly be granted for up to 66% of the eligible costs, with both the central government and local municipalities contributing towards the funding.
In terms of next steps, the MoTC noted that a referral debate on the proposals has been submitted to parliament and will be conducted in an upcoming plenary session. Subsequently, the proposal will then be sent to the Transport and Communications Committee, and once that body’s report is ready, the matter will be discussed in a plenary session again. With the plan being for the legislation underpinning the state aid scheme to enter into force on 1 January 2021, the ministry has said it expects the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Liikenne- ja viestintavirasto, Traficom) to begin accepting applications for aid from the start of 2021.
Meanwhile, in related news, the MoTC has revealed that, working in conjunction with the Finnish Confederation of Telecommunications and Information Technology (FiCom) and local communications providers DNA, Elisa and Telia Finland, a joint commitment has been struck to improve broadband connectivity in the country. According to the ministry, the aim of the commitment is to guarantee the availability of high quality broadband to all, and to that end the operators involved have undertaken to develop infrastructure so as to ensure that all households in Finland’s cities and sparsely populated areas have access to downlink speeds of 100Mbps by 2025. The MoTC has said that all parties involved will conduct annual reviews to see whether the commitment goals are being met.