Universal phone service in Estonia closer to reality

  • 2006-10-18
  • Staff and wire reports

EXPANSION: The Elisa company wins the tender to meet next year's universial service by the beginning of next year.

TALLINN - The Estonian Communica-tions Board named Elisa Andmesideteenused (Elisa Data Communication Services) as the winner of a governmental tender to become the country's universal telephone service provider. At 97 kroons (6.2 euros) a month, Elisa's tender for providing universal service was lower than the government-set affordable rate ceiling for 2007, which is 98 kroons for private individuals and VAT-exempt legal entities and 120 kroons for other legal entities, the Communications Board said.

The regulator wants to sign a contract with Elisa before December to ensure the continued provision of universal service by the beginning of next year.

The tender invitation published in July saw two offers. Elisa Data Communication Services won the tender over the current operator Elion, a division of the Eesti Telekom group.
Only Elisa's tender met the requirements, the Communications Board said.

The provider must ensure that all users across Estonia can connect to the public telephone network and maintain a connection. If the provider is unable to cover all service costs, the company can ask the government for help. In such a case, the government will collect a respective fee from telecommunications companies to set up a fund.

The rate will be 0.01 percent of 2007 turnover, although the government plans to raise it to 0.04 percent by 2008.