Government proposes to continue aid for new high-speed broadband connections
The Government proposes that aid for the construction of high-speed broadband would begin anew in 2021. The proposal relates to the budget proposal for 2021, in which EUR 5 million have been allocated for the construction of broadband.
With the proposed aid scheme, about 10,000 new households could be connected to high-speed broadband. According to the Government Programme, aid would be targeted to areas where no commercial high-speed broadband would be introduced before 2025. The commercial broadband connections and plans for their construction would be reviewed before the call for applications for State aid is opened.
"In addition to fixed broadband connections, the aid scheme would cover fixed wireless connections in the 5G network as well as second homes in addition to permanent homes," says Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka.
Aid would be granted for the construction of high-speed broadband that can provide connections of consistent quality even during normal peak times. The minimum connection speed to qualify for aid would be laid down in a government decree. With current technology, a high-speed connection of consistent quality can either be achieved with a fixed network or fixed wireless connections in the 5G network. Those constructing a broadband connection could apply for aid for permanent and holiday homes, business facilities and public administration offices.
Aid for broadband construction could be granted up to 66% of the eligible costs. Both the State and municipalities would contribute to funding the aid. The conditions for the aid would be about the same as before, except that, for example, the contributions from the municipalities would be reassessed based on updated financial information. The aid scheme would be a continuation of the High-Speed Broadband aid scheme, which was in use in 2010-2019.
At the end of 2019, close to 1.8 million Finnish households, or 64% of all households, had access to a fixed broadband connection of at least 100 megabits per second. There are large differences in availability based on region. At the end of 2019, almost 1 million households were outside the reach of high-speed fixed communications connections. In addition, the wireless 5G networks already in use in 60 municipalities are concentrated in the largest cities, transport hubs and key tourist destinations.
According to the Government Programme, high-speed connections are to be primarily constructed on market terms and only secondarily through public funding. It is not profitable to invest in high-speed connections in all of Finland's regions because of long distances, for example. There are significant differences in the availability of high-speed connections, especially between urban and rural areas.
A referral debate on the government proposal now submitted to Parliament will be conducted in a Parliament plenary session. Information on the date of the session will be available on the Parliament website (plenary session agendas). After the referral debate, the proposal will be sent to the Transport and Communications Committee. Once the committee's report is ready, the matter will be discussed in a plenary session again.
The act would enter into force on 1 January 2021. Applications for aid for the construction of a network would be accepted at Traficom from the beginning of 2021.
Requests to interview Minister Timo Harakka: Communications Director Susanna Niinivaara, tel. +358 400 816 187, susanna.niinivaara(at)lvm.fi
Maija Ahokas, Director of Unit, tel. +358 40 031 6178, maija.ahokas(at)lvm.fi, Twitter @mmaija