Problems associated with laying fibre optic cable along roads are standing in the way of broadband expansion

5/4/2018 1

The forecasts of the Swedish Post and Telecom Authority (PTS) for broadband expansion suggest that private sector investment may level off. The primary difficulty involves prospects for laying fibre optic cable along the smaller roads that the Swedish Transport Administration manages. According to a report entitled Follow-up of the Government’s Broadband Strategy 2018, the result may be that the targets will not be met.

PTS predicts that 87-90% of all households and businesses will have access to broadband of at least 100 Mbit/s by 2020. The Government’s target is 95%. The forecast is lower than last year’s. The reason for the more modest forecast is greater uncertainty about costs associated with laying fibre optic cable in sparsely populated areas due to current Transport Administration principles that permit it only by means of excavation of outer embankments adjacent to many of the small country roads.

Proposed assignment for the Transport Administration

PTS proposes that the Government assign the Transport Administration more proactive responsibility for promoting broadband expansion, as well as for investigating and suggesting ways for safe and cost-effective installation of associated infrastructure on or adjacent to roads.  

“In sparsely populated areas,” Dan  Sjöblom says, “a good broadband connection may make the difference between moving or staying, liquidating or growing a business. That’s why it is so important to ensure proper conditions for attaining the ambitious broadband expansion targets. Unless the public sector makes it easier for the market to invest in sparsely populated areas, there is a great danger that both households and businesses will be left without digitisation.”

The PTS report monitors all targets of both the Government’s broadband strategy and the EU digital agenda.

Satellite technology can provide everyone with 30 Mbit/s by 2020

For the reasons enumerated above, PTS forecasts indicate that achieving the Government’s goal that all of Sweden have access to high-speed broadband by 2025 may be difficult. PTS has concluded, however, that the EU goal that everyone have access to at least 30 Mbit/s by 2020 will be achieved thanks to satellite technology that supplements expansion of fibre optic and mobile networks. That is also one of the Government’s interim targets for 2025.

Coverage requirement will contribute to target fulfilment

PTS is also monitoring the Government’s goal that all of Sweden have access to quality mobile services by 2023. One approach is to monitor coverage in areas where people normally are, i.e., near roads, recreation centres, households and workplaces. A best-case scenario suggests that 94% of areas in which people normally are will have coverage for mobile services of at least 10 Mbit/s by 2023.

PTS believes that commercially oriented infrastructure expansion that leads to new coverage will be limited over the next few years. But expectations are that the coverage requirement in the 700 Mhz bandwidth that PTS is planning will contribute to target fulfilment.

The report "Uppföljning av regeringens bredbandsstrategi 2018"   - In Swedish only.

For more information:

PTS press office, +47 (08) 678 55 55