EU-required amendments to the Act on Broadband Construction Aid - opinions are requested on drafts of the Act and Decree
The Act on Broadband Construction Aid will be amended to continue to comply with the European Union's State aid rules. The Ministry of Transport and Communications requests that opinions on the Government proposal and Government Decree be submitted by 27 September 2021.
The current law is governed by the EU General Block Exemption Regulation, which includes provisions on such things as the conditions under which broadband infrastructure can be supported. The amendments to the Decree entered into force on 03 August 2021.
Unlike in the past, the regulation has separate requirements to support fixed and wireless networks. The minimum speed requirements for eligible high-speed communications connections have also increased. In addition, the regulation contains more detailed provisions on such things as the mapping of the planned project area, public consultation and the assessment of competitive effects.
Unlike the national broadband aid programme, which entered into force at the beginning of the year, the updated programme would no longer be able to support the construction of fixed wireless access for 5G networks. According to the Block Exemption Regulation, aid cannot be provided to 5G networks in areas where 4G or 5G networks already exist. In Finland, 99.9 per cent of the population has access to 4G networks.
The Act on Broadband Construction Aid entered into force on 1 January 2021 and the Decree issued under it on 15 March 2021. The scheme is aimed at areas where no commercial broadband will be made available before 2025. The aim is to include 10,000 new households within the scope of high-speed broadband connections. In 2021, five million euros have been allocated in the State budget for broadband aid. In addition, Finland has applied for EUR 50 million from the EU's recovery instrument to support broadband, which would complement the national broadband aid programme from 2022 onwards.
Regional Councils will organise tendering for project areas on the basis of which network builders are selected. The network builder selected through the tendering process may apply for aid from the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom. The Finnish Transport and Communications Agency is currently preparing market analyses of planned project areas and after these are completed competitive tendering can begin.
The draft Act and Decree will be available for opinions until 27 September 2021. Requests for opinions are published at www.lausuntopalvelu.fi. All organisations and citizens can contribute their comments online at www.laustopalvelu.fi or by e-mail to [email protected]
Due to the funding applied for the broadband programme from the recovery instrument, the act will be treated as a budget act, which is why the Government proposal must be submitted to Parliament no later than the end of October 2021. In the budget proposal for 2022, EUR 15 million is proposed for the broadband aid programme.
The changes required by EU state aid legislation must be implemented no later than on 3 February 2022.
Maija Ahokas, Director of Unit, tel. +358 (0)295 342 390, maija.ahokas(at)gov.fi, Twitter @mmaija
Aino Koskinen, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 (0)295 342 224, aino.koskinen(at)gov.fi
Press release 11 March 2021: First government broadband scheme supports mobile connections
Press release 30 December 2020: Act on Broadband Construction Aid enters into force
Lausuntopalvelu.fi: Government proposal for the Act amending the Act on Broadband Construction Aid and the related Government Decree (in Finnish)
Government project website: Government proposal for an Act amending the Act on Broadband Construction Aid (LVM053:00/2021) (in Finnish)
Government project website: Government Decree amending the Government Decree on the Municipality's contribution and minimum speed of high-speed broadband connections in a broadband project (LVM054:00/2021) (in Finnish)