Next-generation network for rural areas of Latvia
An EU-funded project has installed next-generation fast and ultra-fast electronic communications infrastructure in rural areas of Latvia, including some of the country’s most remote districts. The improved Internet connections will help increase accessibility to information and communication technologies (ICT) for homes, schools and businesses in the area. This should support entrepreneurship and competitiveness by optimising business processes and promote use of digital content in education across the whole country.
" The network infrastructure is available for all electronic communications providers on equal and non-discriminatory terms and conditions, and is subject to compliance with the principles of open optical networks and technological neutrality in access points. It provides an opportunity for at least five electronic communications providers to build their own optical transmission in any network access point. In the first stage of the project, 177 access points for operators and 1 813 km of fibre optic cable have been installed. High-speed internet coverage is now available to 190 000 inhabitants in rural areas. "
Altogether 50 municipalities took part in the project, with 177 access points being installed throughout. The positioning of these points was decided in cooperation with local authorities and communications services to avail of their expertise.
Thanks to this EU-funded project, high-speed internet was delivered to around 190 000 people in rural areas by laying 1 813 km of fibre optic cable. Latvia now provides more equal access to high-speed Internet, helping to reduce the digital divide.
Reaching for EU digital targets
In 2010, the EU adopted its Europe 2020 strategy for achieving smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, part of which is better access to fast and ultra-fast Internet.
For this, the European Commission drew up its Digital Agenda for Europe – one of seven pillars of the Europe 2020 strategy. It is aimed at better exploitation of the potential of ICT to foster innovation, growth and progress. One of the Digital Agenda’s key targets is to ensure that all European citizens have access to broadband Internet at a minimum speed of 30 megabits per second (Mbps), with at least half of EU households equipped with connections above 100 Mbps.
Sparsely-populated areas being provided with internet
The project was launched to contribute to the achievement of these goals by providing network infrastructure in more remote regions where such services would not normally be readily available. The Latvian Ministry of Transport organised consultations with local government and electronic communication providers to identify 363 key areas where more infrastructure needed to be developed.
So as to achieve balanced development throughout the country, access points and fibre optic cabling had to be installed in Latvia's regions in line with certain percentage distributions. At least 20 % of the investment was to take place in the Latgale planning region, at least 15 % in each of the Kurzeme, Vidzeme and Zemgale regions, and at least 5 % in the Riga region.
The “middle mile” of the infrastructure, or the part of the network which links the core and local systems, was situated at the Latvian State Radio and Television Centre. Electronic communications providers were also given the chance to have access to the local loop, so that they can provide internet or cable TV to residents, making it possible to develop their business in areas where it was not previously profitable.
The second stage of broadband development has now started to extend the reach of the network.
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project “Broadband development in Latvia” is EUR 26 421 763, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 23 034 491 through the “Infrastructure and Services” Regional Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.