Agency investigating Estonia's expensive high-speed internet prices
The Consumer Protection and Technical Regulatory Authority (TTJA) is looking into why Estonia's high-speed internet is so expensive in comparison to its neighbors, IT minister Kristjan Järvan (Isamaa) said on Thursday.
Estonia has been rolling out high-speed internet for a long time. While connections are good, widespread adoption is held back by high prices.
In Estonia, 100 Mbit/s internet costs the same as 1 Gbit/s in Latvia and Lithuania, a situation the minister described as "incomprehensible". To buy a 1 Gbit/s connection in Estonia costs €70, but €19 in Lithuania and €21 in Latvia.
Estonia ranks 6th in the European Union in terms of the cost of 100 Mbps fixed connection.
Järvan said the TTJA is currently looking into Estonia's high prices. If necessary measures may be introduced "with the aim of making the use of faster data connections more attractive for the end user".
It is also necessary to bring high-speed connections to places where few people live. Currently, most companies have little interest in providing internet to these areas.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications broadband communication infrastructure development plan, but it requires €200 million of state funding. It also covers expanding connections to low-population areas.
The European Commission's suggested 2030 target is that all EU households will be covered by the gigabit network and all populated areas by the 5G network.
Estonia has slightly more modest goals. By 2030, 95 percent of all inhabited areas should have 5G connections; all residents and companies will be able to access a 100 Mbit/s connection; in areas of low-population basic infrastructure will been established between communications companies and the state.
Järvan said meeting these targets will be a challenge and will depend on funding.
"For example, €69 million of EU funding is earmarked for access networks in rural areas up to 2030, but on top of that, there is an estimated €200 million gap to reach the gigabit society," the minister said.
He said a political decision is needed on how to ensure connectivity in rural areas where there is currently no good quality internet connection.
"Providing a 1 Gbit/s connection everywhere is very expensive, and different technological solutions need to be considered to enable people to have access to affordable high-speed internet in the coming years," Järvan said.
Between 2021 and 2027, the government spent €70.3 million on creating fixed connections in rural areas.
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Editor: Marko Tooming, Helen Wright