Iceland tops the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) country rankings in terms of information and communications technologies (ICT) performance for 2017. In its Measuring the Information Society Report 2017, the ITU has scored 176 countries around the world and compared the outcome with last year’s results.
The scoring is based on 11 criteria, including access to ICT infrastructure, electronic communications services, computers, and information technology, as well as IT skills and use of technology among the general population.
According to the ITU, several factors characterise the countries at the top of the rankings. These include competition in the telecom and IT market, investment in these markets, and emphasis on innovation. Furthermore, a strong economy and high rates of literacy and general education enable the general public to use IT and telecom services more effectively for their own benefit.
Iceland’s outstanding results are thanks to the development that has taken place in recent years, with an eye to ensuring well-being and high standards of living nationwide, together with diversified employment opportunities. The competitiveness of individual regions is determined in part by access to secure high-speed internet connections.
The Icelandic authorities lay down their policies in their telecommunications strategy, which states that Iceland shall promote accessible, user-friendly, economical, efficient, secure, and environment-friendly electronic communications. Furthermore, the Telecommunications Fund has the role of promoting telecom development outside marketing areas on the basis of the telecommunications strategy.
Iceland’s Electronic Communications Act is based for the most part on the relevant European Union legislation, in keeping with Iceland’s obligations under the EEA Agreement. Oversight of implementation and monitoring of the Electronic Communications Act is carried out by the Post and Telecom Administration.
Iceland’s Rural Fibre Project
In recent years, market agents have been building up high-speed mobile networks throughout virtually the entire country. Furthermore, they are moving forward in their efforts to install fixed high speed VDSL2 internet connectivity in all population centres. For marketing reasons, they have prioritized fibre optic cable installation in greater Reykjavík area and the Eyjafjörður area. State and local government participation is vital in order to bring fibre networks to rural areas, a project that is well underway.
The Iceland’s Rural Fibre Project (Icel. Ísland ljóstengt) is a short-term Government initiative to bring 100 Mb/s wired internet to 99.9% of households and businesses nationwide by year-end 2020. The State contributes funding for the project, and local governments can apply for subsidies that depend on their own contributions and other criteria, so as to begin fibre network installation in sparsely populated areas. It is assumed that telecom companies will eventually install fibre networks in all population centres in Iceland.
Iceland’s Rural Fibre Project was launched in 2016 and is overseen by the Telecommunications Fund. Roughly 5,500 households and businesses were included in the project at the outset, and local governments have yet only to negotiate connection agreements in 2019 and 2020 for the last 1,500 buildings in sparsely populated areas to reach that target.
Strong emphasis is placed on economy, synergies with other utilities development projects, and cooperation with telecom providers insofar as is possible. Fibre network installation outside population centres also plays a role in upgrading core communications systems nationwide, which is a prerequisite for greater reliability, coverage, and data transmission speeds across all mobile networks outside densely populated areas.