Ukrtelecom outlines funding plan for rural connectivity

Ukrtelecom outlines funding plan for rural connectivity

Ukraine’s Ukrtelecom is planning deploy ultrafast broadband reaching 2.6 million people living in rural areas.

The broadband provider has offered a 2.5 year timeframe for the plan, which was announced after the Ukrainian Ministry of Digital Transformation called for rural broadband speeds to be improved to 100Mbps across the next four years.

Only 65% of rural Ukraine currently has broadband access, but by working with the telecommunications industry the government plans to increase broadband availability to 95% of Ukraine’s rural population.

"Through an open public-private partnership, Ukrtelecom stands ready to help the government to roll out fibre internet in rural areas,” says Ukrtelecom’s CEO, Yuri Kurmaz.

As of today, more than 16,000 educational institutions and over 8,000 medical facilities in Ukraine do not have access to a fibre optic internet connection. The government plans to allocate $197m to the telecoms industry to connect them. In turn, this will help connect the wider nearby communities.

Ukrtelecom estimates that it will cost $110m for it to roll out broadband to 2.6m people in rural areas. It has proposed an allocation of $51 million from the aforementioned government fund, with plans to raise the balance of $59m in cooperation with international vendors and financial partners.

As a result of the first stage of Ukrtelecom’s plans, internet coverage for Ukraine’s rural population will jump from 65% to 85% within the next 2.5 years. It will require building and rolling out a 23,000km fibre backbone and 26,000km of access network across 3,900 villages. These relatively large villages with educational and medical facilities have on average 200 households and a total population 2.6m.

The second stage will bring coverage to the remaining 10% of the population in the government’s plan by providing fibre connectivity to another 8,000 smaller villages, taking it to its targeted goal of 95%.

Yuri Kurmaz said: “The recent Covid-19 outbreak has shown that it’s vital for all of Ukraine to be digitally connected. By bringing ultrafast broadband to rural parts of the country we want to support the digital transformation of government services, education and agriculture, as well as the wider economy.”

Earlier this year, in March 2020, Ukrtelecom announced it had signed an agreement with leading European ICT provider Iskratel and SID Banka to connect rural areas of Ukraine using GPON fibre-optic networks.

The two-year network construction project with total investment of ‎$6.2m will provide a fibre internet connection to 200 villages in 13 Ukrainian regions. The project is providing coverage to 250,000 people. So far, the new network has already passed 200,000 people in 180 villages.

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