Preparation of broadband construction aid proceeds - request for comments on continuing the aid scheme in 2021
The Ministry of Transport and Communications is preparing an act concerning public aid for broadband construction. The deadline for comments on the Government proposal is 12 June 2020.
“The coronavirus situation this spring has proven that good connections are vital for us. According to the Government Programme, public aid for broadband construction could be considered for areas where the service is not being created on market terms. By the EUR 5 million reserved for this aid scheme we would make sure that even larger areas will have access to fast connections. The aim is to further improve the opportunities to work remotely and do business for as many people in Finland as possible,” Minister of Transport and Communications Timo Harakka says.
The aim to continue the aid scheme is also included in the Government Programme. Aid should be targeted to areas where no broadband connections will be constructed on a commercial basis before 2025. Aid would be granted for the construction of high-speed broadband connections, i.e. connections that enable at least 100 megabits per second. According to the General Government Fiscal Plan, EUR 5 million will be reserved for 2021 for the implementation of the national broadband project.
In the Government Programme of Prime Minister Sanna Marin, Finland is committed to the ambitious target of the European Union according to which all households will have access to a high-speed broadband connection of at least 100 megabits per second by 2025. Finland wishes to be among the world leaders in communications networks, as also stated in the Digital Infrastructure Strategy published by the Ministry of Transport and Communications in 2018.
Conditions of the aid about the same as before
The aid scheme would continue the High-Speed Broadband aid scheme, where the call for applications closed in 2018. The aim is that aid could again be applied for and granted as from the beginning of 2021. 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 e.g. the contributions to be paid by the municipalities would be reassessed.
The High-Speed Broadband aid scheme was launched in 2010. The aim was to provide about 132,000 households with access to fast broadband connections. So far, about 25,000 kilometres of fixed optical fibre network has been constructed, reaching almost 100,000 households. Now the payment of the aid would continue until 2021 and, if the ongoing projects are implemented as planned, the target set for the access to broadband connections can be reached.
At the end of 2018, 15% of Finnish households had access to a fixed broadband connection of at least 100 megabits per second. There are considerable differences between the regions and municipalities in terms of the access to broadband connections.
What are the next steps?
The deadline for comments is 12 June 2020. The Ministry of Transport and Communications will organise and online consultations on the aid for broadband construction on 14 May 2020. The draft Government proposal will be presented and various stakeholders will tell about their views on the aid scheme. The consultation is open to all who have registered by 11 May 2020.
The Government proposal concerning the aid scheme will be submitted as a finance and expenditure act in autumn 2020. The application period for the aid for constructing optical fibre networks should be opened in the beginning of 2021.
Katariina Vuorela, Ministerial Adviser, +358 295 34 2029, katariina.vuorela(at)lvm.fi, Twitter @vuorelakata