“Optic fibre to all houses on Gotland” is one of the five winners of the European Broadband Awards 2017 competition. The project brought fibre to the whole Gotland island in the Baltic Sea. The results show that at least 85% of residents and 50% of people owning a summer house have joined the project. The public administrations have spent EUR 4.3 million, of which EUR 2 million from the EU funds. The people of Gotland payed some EUR 12 million. To keep the costs low, people offered their land for cable rollout and even did the digging themselves. 57 thousand people now have fibre in Gotland.

Illustration of the Optic fiber to all houses on Gotland, Sweden

Keeping young people, developing the local businesses and achieving a positive population growth.

Fibre for the whole island

The project “Optic fibre to all houses on Gotland” is the winner in the category 1: Innovative models of financing, business and investment. The project deployed a complete roll-out of optic fibre to all houses in its mainly rural region and the island’s main city: Visby. The network offers a robust and resilient infrastructure ready to support present and future demands for high capacity (GB levels if demanded) to households and businesses.

The objective of the project was to ensure that the island of Gotland would increase its attraction on people and businesses. Keeping young people, developing the local businesses and achieving a positive population growth are some of the main goals. The infrastructure is 100% optic fibre to the home, all deployed in underground trenches. Each parish (92 in total) have a local node from which usually a star-net is spread to all houses. The individual house owners invested in money and time as they offered 3 days of manual labour work. The competing telecom actors payed up-front a rent to the parish fibre association for providing services from the parish local node to the houses. As a result also new methods were developed, new customer packages were created and the project had a huge impact on the area.

Gotland is the largest island in the Baltic Sea. It is mainly rural with 60% of the population still living in the countryside in houses or farmsteads spread out over large areas. Τhe remaining 40% of the population lives in Visby, a medieval world heritage walled city with a lot of residential houses and more than 3000 inhabitants. During the implementation of the project, no discriminations are made between permanent- and “summer” houses as there are a lot of summer houses of often elderly people living there for several weeks/months of the year.

What was achieved?

The penetration rate is approximately 85% whilst the total costs have been kept as low as 10 €/meter for infrastructure on the ground. This was achieved thanks to the model of parish projects that increased the interest of the local market and attracted the main telecom actors to compete for parish projects. According to a study on changed travel patterns made by Sweden’s Aviation Agency, people from Stockholm with houses on Gotland flew a lot more back and forth and changed from weekend stays to a Thursday - Monday on Gotland pattern. When asked, the majority claimed the change was because they had a better connectivity from their summerhouse and thus, could combine nice living with efficient workhours over the net. Also, the population has started to grow and there is a very strong investment interest in Gotland.

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