Last Mile - Suupohjan Seutuverkko Oy (Last Mile)

Published on: 27/08/2008
Suupohjan Seutuverkko Oy is a company owned by five municipalities building an open data communication network up to the homes and businesses. Another shareholder with 5 per cent share is TDC Oy. The region is the size of 3152 km2 and has a population of 30 000. The density is 9,7 inhabitants/km2 (in Great Britain the density is 277 inhabitants/km2). The region has about 50 villages with 50-500 people per village (size around 50 km2) and 5 municipality centres. Suupohjan Seutuverkko was founded in 2005 as a result of EU-funded program Last Mile. During 2005-2007 Last Mile covered 45 % of the costs of building internet connections in the villages. Before this our region had many villages without any kind of internet connection. These small villages didn't even get the lowest adsl-connections. Our company was founded to enable the people as well as the companies in those villages to have the possibility to live and function in the place they want to. Without us in time they would have had to move to the downtown areas of bigger places. We have built several kilometres only to reach one single household. Our network is built with the Open Access principle which means that service providers have all equal opportunities in providing their services to fibre customers. Thereby customers are free to choose their service from the operator they prefer. FTTH connection can replace all existing data communication connections, such as the broadband, cable, satellite, digital TV and telephone connection. During 2008-2010 Finland's biggest operator TeliaSonera is taking away its copper network in rural areas. This means that many people who used to have adsl-connection will be left with nothing. With our FTTH connection they will be able to continue their existance in the place they want to.

Description of target users and groups

The region is the size of 3152 km2 and has a population of 30 000. The density is 9,7 inhabitants/km2 (in Great Britain the density is 277 inhabitants/km2). The region has about 50 villages with 50-500 people per village (size around 50 km2). The project is for the villagers who are otherwise unable to get any kind of broadband connection and who would finally have to move closer to the downtown areas of municipalities to get services via internet..

Technology solution

Technology choice: Mainly (or only) open standards

Main results, benefits and impacts

Out FTTH network has made it possible for companies to function in the villages. It can be seen from the fact that companies with FTTH connection have continued their operations while in many other villages outside our region have had to move or end their operations. Also a few new companies have been established in little villages. The five municibalities have been able to acquire common software for example for finacial management and health care. These common purchases have saved these municibalities hundreads of thousands of euros. The network has abled efficient virtual high school. The local high school students are able to take virtual lessons from anywhere in the world. For example Teuva's high school has 135 students and they are able to study for example russian, spanish, italian and latin which was earlier impossible. 15,4 % of our industrial structure belongs to the farming. Farmers with FTTH are now able to use efficient surveillance and remote control tecnology which is especially important when the barn is not located close to the house. Farmers are also able to access the EU-registers of Agency of Rural Affairs and Finnish Food Safety Authority and fill out easily their EU-applications. Health care data can be moved through our network. For example the results of local mammography tests are instantly moved to the national registers. Also the X-ray pictures can be instantly moved from local doctors to the central hospital and the special doctors there are able to give out results right away. Otherwise it takes time and hundreads of kilometres of driving for the patients to physically go to the central hospital to hear the results. Our region of 3152 km2 had many dead zones in tv and cellphone signals. Due to our network, the people in these dead zones are able to watch proper TV and speak on the phone without leaving their homes. Fibre optic network has also resulted in local TV-channels. There are for example IP-cameras in churches and the older people in nursing homes can follow live broadcast from the church 24/7.

Return on investment

Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available

Lessons learnt

Our project showed that there is still hope for the people in very rural areas to get same level of services as in big cities. In our case they may even get better services than in Helsinki! Market forces didn't get the broadband connection to the very rural areas, in turn they are taking them away. But with the help of EU, local municipalities and the people themselves we were able to build large fiber optic network which operates in open access princible leaving the end customers the choice to choose freely the services they want to. In other words, co-operation and persistency may lead to positive results. The project has also shown that even elderly people learn to use computer and internet and even IPTV-services when they have high enough motivation. Their ability and motivation to learn can never be under estimated! Scope: Regional (sub-national)