Presentation on theme: "Access to E-communications in remote & rural areas - the case of Lithuania Presentation by Dr Frans van der Zee (ECORYS-NL) IDELE Seminar, Rovaniemi, 16."— Presentation transcript:
Access to E-communications in remote & rural areas - the case of Lithuania Presentation by Dr Frans van der Zee (ECORYS-NL) IDELE Seminar, Rovaniemi, 16 September 2004 World Bank
Ongoing project, final stage World Bank publication –In book form: expected autumn 2004 –In pdf: Website World Bank CITPO-division Oct2004 Objective: Identifying best practice options for improving access to electronic communications Focus on underserved areas… … typically found in rural and remote areas Results from a World Bank study by ECORYS & TNO (NL)
Objective of Best practices study… How to define underserved areas? How to choose between types of electronic communications? How to organise improved access? How to use Structural Funds?
Importance of improved E-access? Vehicle for modernisation & development –Connecting people & businesses in the area –Connecting to the outside world –Economic, social and quality-of-life impact –Marketing & selling products & services –Information, promotion & publicity –Training (distance learning) –Closing the widening geographic digital divide E-access is a means, not an end in itself
EU Structural Funds & E-access? (…) The risk of a widening digital divide and its economic consequences, e.g. the delocalisation of economic activities… …to explore new solutions to encourage the deployment of broadband infrastructure in less favoured areas. … geographical isolation and low density of population can make the cost of upgrading the existing infrastructure unsustainable. … the unavailability of adequate infrastructure is an important obstacle for the development of certain economic activities and a source of social disparities.
Internet access in Lithuania Public access –PIAPs in municipal centres, libraries, schools… (free access – rural & remote areas) –Internet cafes (paid access – cities & towns) Private households: 7.7% has Internet –urban areas 11.7%, rural areas 0.8% Firms: 67% connected to the internet –Large firms almost all, SMEs lag behind –Small firms & farms (<10 employees) not counted & mostly not connected!
Improving E-access – problems? Public access –Access to PIAPs is limited – subscribe in advance (waiting lists) & only simple and web access (no printing facilities) –Access to internet cafes – limited to cities & towns Private access –Expensive: Access charges & daily access cost –Computer-literacy: training! –Availability computers: Only 19.9% has a PC; in urban areas 27.4%, in rural areas 6.8%
Related to general problems in remote & rural areas – vicious circle? Low household income levels Widening gap with rest of the country Traditional forms of employment: largely semi-subsistence farming, some commercial farming, woodworking, linen industries,… How to keep the talented and how to keep the balance with pensioners?
How to improve E-access? Improved E-access is more than just stretching broadband infrastructure (fiber to the home) Supporting demand vital! –Access support – Equity for least favoured users through cost subsidies or regulatory options –Further develop E-content / E-services –Access investment - From PIAPs to enterprise centres? Whether or not broadband?
Defining broadband in terms of service categories… narrowband services – e.g. voice, e- mail, transaction services broadband services – e.g. multimedia, entertainment, advanced corporate services super broadband services – high definition multimedia, bio-information, ubiquitous intelligence
Lessons & conclusions … Getting the organisational capacity right: –One champion, clear responsibilities –Needed at central and regional level –Provide an adequate regional structure and try to cluster demand local level –Define national & regional broadband strategies Demand-driven & supply-coordinated Concentrate Structural Funds on real rural & remote areas Remember: internet is a tool, not an end in itself
Thank you all for your attention Further information: oncoming WB publications (paper & web)
The use of EU Structural Funds Co-financing - conditionalities: –Underserved areas / geographical divide –State aid framework applies –Technological neutral & open access –Regional ICT strategy
What is broadband? No standard definition of broadband Can be defined in terms of service requirements as well as technology Most common services individually are narrowband Broadband demand is linked to business models… –of electronic equipment, infrastructure and service providers –of commercial and public service users who add value Need for model coordination in order for demand to develop
Costs of improved E-access Related to network architecture access element backhaul element Dependent on distances and user numbers Possible solutions: Influence service and pricing regulation Introduce new, lower cost technological options (mobile, WISP) unit costs vs % of total investment costs
E-access initiatives Lithuania so far Mostly private initiatives, joined by govt.: –PIAPs in municipal centres, libraries, schools… (Window to the Future alliance) –… training, workshops, publicity Public involvement: –E-content, E-government, broadband strategy –Pilot investment SF-project - nature reserve Neringa (near Kalingrad)