Five life-changing projects for advanced broadband connection are the winners of European broadband Awards. Last year Gotland (Sweden) Colchester (UK), Coviolo (Italy), Helsinki (Finland) and and the most rural and remote areas of Greece won the prize with five ambitious projects.
Astonishing what Greece had built in the most remote regions connecting an isolated 5% of the total population with no access to internet. “In order to connect the most remotely located population of Greece, the infrastructure required was extended to 45% of national territory.” explained Ioannis Kostantinidis, from OTE Group in charge with the project. “Within the strict time frame of two years we built 12.000 km of fibre optic infrastructures connecting 2,260 remote villages across the country”. The project connected also remote villages in the Greek islands.
The huge web infrastructure has been funded by three different sources: the EU Regional Development Fund, the Greek National State fund and private investments.The total 150mln euros budget has been mainly covered with the EU structural Fund.
In the Italian village of Coviolo (Emilia Romagna region) the winning project challenged the affordability issue providing cheap connection to sub urban areas. “Coviolo Wireless” awarded for the category “Socio-economic impact and affordability” helped overcoming the digital divide through a broadband wireless infrastructure for affordable service to the whole community. The cost of the project was 33.582 (10.000 from the Municipality of Reggio Emilia, 14.582 from the Neighbourhood Social Centre (NSC) of Coviolo and 9.000 from the Lepida spa. No EU Funds were used. The project ensured the right of access to broadband WiFi for all citizens, even those in peripheral areas, and guarantees affordable costs for the users.
The project “Colchester Business Broadband” modernised the existing CCTV infrastructure and included innovative measures to simplify the logistical issues. The new the network was created out at an estimated 15% of the cost of deploying a comparable infrastructure from scratch, by upgrading the extensive CCTV infrastructure owned and operated by the Council (Local Government). It costed 600.000 euros funded by regional and local public funds. Now the new infrastructure guarantees connectivity to more than 850 SMEs and 1.100 households in a previously uncovered area.
In Sweden, after the completion of the winning Optic fibre to all houses in Gotland, all houses in this rural region have access to internet through the realisation of an optic fibre infrastructure. The project costed 25mln euros funded with 2mln euro EU structural fund, 2.3 million public investments, 12 mln private (households) plus additional regional investments from telecom companies.
A landmark cooperative created in the neighbours of Helsinki demonstrated how to fill the gaps of public funding. As public support is given only to rural areas in Finland, the residents of Marttila, a small area nearby Helsinki, established a cooperative to build their own high-capacity network with 4 fibres. Marttila is a small village where war veterans and invalids built their homes during WWII; the building density in this area is low therefore private telecom operators were not interested in bringing in fibre technology. But now the cooperative owned infrastructure enabled competition between internet providers ensuring future demand for fast connectivity. Through the ownership and management of the 4-fibre network connecting over 100 homes, the cooperative is able to offer the services of most major Finnish telecom operators.
The new winners in 2018 will be awarded next November and realisations of ambitious projects from different EU countries will share the podium bringing forward the EU Digital Single Market transformation with the outlook of three main strategic objectives for 2025: Gigabit connectivity for all of the main socio-economic drivers, uninterrupted 5G coverage for all urban areas and major terrestrial transport paths, and access to connectivity offering at least 100 Mbps for all European households. The deadline for submitting the applications is 7 September 2018.