Bridging Lithuania’s digital divide

Broadband is being rolled out across Lithuania, so as to bring fast and switched-on Internet access to 98 % of rural areas.

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The RAIN-2 project offers a competitive environment for various operators to deliver modern broadband services to a rural population of some 600 000. Connecting major centres of knowledge such as schools, libraries and public Internet centres, the new networks will boost implementation of the nation’s Development Strategy of the Broadband Infrastructure for 2005-10.

Focus on rural regions

Rural areas traditionally lag behind their urban neighbours, when it comes enjoying modern telecommunications. Lithuania is no exception, with broadband companies hesitant to invest in areas with scattered villages and relatively few potential subscribers. A further disincentive is the high cost of building modern telecoms infrastructure to support their services there.

Spread over two years, RAIN-2 addresses such challenges by developing new broadband networks in rural areas across the country. Beneficiaries include the local population, businesses and public bodies. Co-funded by the EU, this project builds on and is fully technically compatible with similar infrastructure developed under RAIN-1.

Key principles for the project include open access to all service providers, non-proprietary technology, and development of infrastructure in rural areas that currently lack broadband. End-users will also be given a free choice of service provider and services.

Faster, more reliable web access

The construction phase provides employment for some 200 people. Contractors will lay over 4 400 of fibre-optic cables and introduce new passive, transport and transmission equipment for both the distribution and access network levels. Sophisticated systems will handle network management. The project also includes services such as technical assistance and property insurance.

In addition to benefiting 600 000 people in rural areas, the new broadband networks will help some 2 000 businesses to develop their activities and be more competitive. An estimated 9 000 public bodies are also expected to make good use of this state-of-the-art infrastructure.

The project is to be implemented and later managed by Plačiajuostis internetas, a not-for-profit public company. To avoid market distortion, all retail services to end-users of the new broadband infrastructure will be provided by communication operators.

Total and EU funding

The project “Development of Rural Area Information Technology Broadband Network RAIN” has a total eligible budget of EUR 50 125 500, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 42 606 600 for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.

Draft date