The Estonian Broadband Development Foundation, set up by information and telecommunications sector companies on Tuesday, is going to build a fiberoptic network in the country's rural regions that will reach all developed areas by 2015.
The board chairman of the foundation, Olav Harjo, said during a press event at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications that no household will remain at a distance of more than 1.5 kilometers from the cable.
"All communications enterprises and the state will have equal conditions for using the network," Harjo said. The network will be built project by project and planning will start in the near future.
Tõnu Grunberg, vice president of the Estonian Association of Information Technology and Telecommunications (ITL), told reporters that the broadband network covering all of Estonia will support tele-working and the broader use of various existing e-solutions such as e-State, e-Education and e-School.
It will provide a signal to the outside that it is comfortable to do business in Estonia, thus giving a boost to foreign investment.
Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications Juhan Parts described the establishment of the foundation as “more than timely”. Parts said that in Europe, Internet with a speed of 64 kilobites per second was regarded as universal, which he called “ridiculous”. The minister said universal service should offer a speed of 100 megabits per second.
The agreement on the establishment of the foundation for building the network's basic infrastructure was signed on Tuesday by ITL members AS Elion Ettevõtted, AS Elisa Eesti, AS EMT, AS Eltel Networks, AS Ericsson Eesti, AS Tele2 Eesti and Televõrgu AS. A representative from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications sits on the foundation's supervisory board.
The network, EstWin, should bring Internet access with speeds of 100 Mbps to even the most distant rural areas. In the first stage, 6 640 kilometers of fiberoptic cable will be laid out complete with 1 400 network access points.
The project costs an estimated 1.5 billion kroons (EUR 96 mln), most of which is expected to be received from EU structural funds. The first stage of the project will give work to 400 people.
According to Ericsson representative Seth Lackmann, from 50 to 60% of Estonian households currently have broadband Internet.