Government Approves Extra €5 Million for Rural Broadband ({{commentsTotal}})

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

Regional Affairs Minister Siim Kiisler has issued a directive granting 5 million additional euros for establishing high-speed Internet connections in rural areas.

"There is more talk of teleworking and the fact that traditionally urban jobs have also moved to rural areas. One prerequisite for the development is the existence of high-speed Internet," said Kiisler in a statement from the Interior Ministry, which administers the regional affairs minister post.

So far, 1,200 kilometers of optical cable has been laid in the last three years, with high-speed Internet reaching at least 40,000 rural residents. The European Regional Development Fund has allocated 11.6 million euros to date.

"Now we have decided to allocate another 5 million in additional funding to continue closing the digital gap and bring high-speed Internet to the countryside," Kiisler said in the statement.

The new infrastructure allows homes and businesses within 1.5 km of the trunk network to later enjoy a connection speed of up to 100 Mbps. The segment from the trunk network to end consumers is not covered in the current funding scheme. Internet service providers will vie for this part of the broadband system under normal market competition rules.

Enterprise Estonia will declare an open call for proposals in early August and applications will be accepted until October 15. There is a maximum 639,116 euros available per project and 15 percent of the project cost must be self-financed.