MoTC calls for feedback on plans to amend Act on Broadband Construction Aid

21 Sep 2021

Finland’s Ministry of Transport and Communications (Liikenne-ja viestintaministerio, MoTC) has announced its intention to amend the Act on Broadband Construction Aid to continue to comply with the EU’s state aid rules. The Act, which covers the provision of service in areas where no commercial broadband is expected to be made available before 2025, entered into force on 1 January 2021 and is governed by the EU General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). However, in July the EC extended the scope of the GBER, with these amendments entering into force last month.

In a press release regarding the planned changes to the Act, the MoTC noted that, in a change to previous practise, the updated EU regulation has separate requirements to support fixed and wireless networks, while minimum speed requirements for eligible high speed communications connections have also increased. In addition, the regulation contains more detailed provisions on such things as the mapping of the planned project area, public consultation and the assessment of competitive effects. Highlighting one notable change in particular, the regulator said that, unlike its current national broadband aid scheme, the updated programme will no longer be able to support the construction of fixed-wireless access for 5G networks. According to the GBER, aid cannot be provided to 5G networks in areas where 4G or 5G networks already exist, and the MoTC noted that in Finland, 99.9% of the population has access to 4G networks.

With the changes required by EU state aid legislation needing to be implemented no later than 3 February 2022, opinions on the draft Act and Decree are being sought by the MoTC by a deadline of 27 September 2021. Further, the ministry noted that ‘due to the funding applied for the broadband programme from the recovery instrument, the act will be treated as a budget act’, with this meaning the proposal must be submitted to the Finnish parliament no later than the end of October.

Finland, Ministry of Transport and Communications (MoTC)