Communities in central Finland working together to bring broadband telecommunications to rural areas

In sparsely populated central Finland, inter-municipal co-operation is a long-standing tradition, with communities entering into voluntary agreements when necessary to provide key services. The Finnish experience has been that, by working together with other small towns, citizens in remote areas can be better provided with essential services.

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Improved broadband connections in the rural areas of Central Finland. © Saarijärvi municipality Improved broadband connections in the rural areas of Central Finland. © Saarijärvi municipality

Rural and peripheral areas are often put to the back of the queue by commercial companies when it comes to the roll-out of telecommunications technology and this can lead to commercial, professional as well as personal isolation for some of Europe’s remotest rural areas.

Funded via the European Regional Development Fund, the high-speed broadband project allows the region’s inhabitants to access a wide range of online services.

The project to bring high-speed broadband with ethernet technology to central Finland involved municipalities in pooling their resources for the investment, which would not have been possible if municipalities had acted on their own.  The project also involved setting up a common information portal for the region.

Telecoms upgrade allows tele-medicine and e-learning to become a reality

The upgrade to the region’s telecommunications now allows greater use of telemedicine.  Diabetes patients, for example, can now use website services to monitor their own health from their own homes.  In remote areas where the nearest medical centre might be a long way from a patient’s home, this means less time is wasted travelling as blood and sugar levels can now be monitored online.

Connecting all parts of central Finland to the internet by means of a broadband connection has also allowed greater use of e-learning programmes in schools as well as higher and further education colleges, as students in remote areas are able to access a wide range of online courses.

Project manager Hilkka Laine said that the project had helped boost the quality of broadband connections in the region and users are now able to enjoy a far wider selection of services and operators.

By reinforcing the sense of community and belonging, bringing broadband to remote areas has helped strengthen territorial cohesion, which is a key European Union objective.  This kind of project, which has involved reaching out to citizens in outlying areas, also contributes to achieving a European Union goal of promoting smart and inclusive growth.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Rurban – Finland: Broadband Services for rural areas in Central Finland” was EUR 196 230, of which the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributed EUR 98 115 in the 2000-2006 programming period.

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