Transport and Telecommunications
Transport and telecommunications are part of society's key infrastructure. The Ministry of Transport and Communications is responsible for their development, maintenance and services, together with transport agencies. Each year substantial funding is allocated for infrastructure investment. In recent years the emphasis has been placed on developing secure high-speed telecommunications throughout Iceland. Postal services have been transformed by the advent of electronic solutions.
The objective, as provided for by law, is to have transport and communications which are quick, efficient, safe, environmentally sustainable and support rural settlements. Actions aimed at increasing safety deliver results in fewer accidents, making it necessary to place sufficient emphasis on safety planning for all transport. Efforts are also made to reduce the environmental impact of transportation by a variety of measures, such as shortening routes and subsidising public transportation.
The Minister of Transport and Local Government is to submit to the Icelandic parliament Althingi a transport programme in the form of a parliamentary resolution at four-year intervals. This programme lays out the government's policy and objectives for all transport sectors for the next twelve years. Another four-year programme, covering the works projects which are part of the twelve-year programme, is also presented and reviewed every two years. The transport programme is prepared in extensive collaboration with local authorities and various other stakeholders. Public meetings and a transport congress are held to encourage discussion and obtain suggestions.
Good communication infrastructure is a key aspect of well-being and residence quality, as well as the basis for a variety of industrial activities. The competitiveness of Icelandic regions is determined in part by their access to secure, high-speed, telecommunication network connections. The government's telecommunications policy is regularly revised. It aims to promote accessible and rapid telecommunications, which are cost-efficient and effective, secure and environmentally friendly.
Icelandic telecommunications legislation is based to a large extent on EU legislation in the field due to Iceland's obligations under the EEA Agreement. Monitoring its implementation and supervision is the responsibility of the Post and Telecom Administration.
The operating environment for postal services has changed dramatically since the beginning of this century with the advent of electronic solutions replacing mail service. Information and invoices are to an ever increasing extent sent through online banking or customer website areas and the portal Ísland.is. As a result the annual number of letters which Iceland Post has exclusive right to deliver has dropped from 60 million to 26 million (by 57%) from 2000 to 2015. The history of postal delivery in Iceland goes back as far as 1776, and the first Icelandic stamps were issued in 1873. Work is underway on amendments to the Postal Services Act aimed at removing the state's exclusive right to universal postal service.