This market brief gives a general overview of Finland’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) market. It also describes U.S. business opportunities in the Finnish market, refers to available statistical data, and provides information on market entry for U.S. companies.
Finland ranks as the world’s second most competitive country in information technology, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s IT Industry Competitiveness Index, published by the Business Software Alliance. Finland offers one of the world's most sophisticated Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure and application environments. This environment provides cutting-edge, high efficiency settings for all kinds of businesses.
Although with only 5.4 million people the Finnish market is small, Finnish consumers and companies have proven to be quick to adopt new technologies. Finland is seen as a pioneering adapter and an important research center for new technology. International companies (e.g., ICL, IBM, Siemens, Hewlett-Packard and Ericsson) have set up research units in Finland, increased their cooperation with Finnish firms, or acquired small companies in the sector. Many companies and researchers have found that Finland makes an ideal environment for developing and testing new types of communications and IT products, and this has no doubt helped drive the sector generally.
The telecommunications market in Finland is fully liberalized. No licenses are needed, except for digital television and mobile networks. Finland’s Ministry of Transport and Communications is responsible for licensing. Telecommunications and mobile technology specifically, have been the driving force behind Finland's high-tech revolution. Finland has become an export-driven location for leading international information and communications technology (ICT) sector companies. Finland was also the first country in the world to grant operating licenses for the third-generation (3G) mobile communications market in March 1999. The telecommunications sector has greatly benefited from Finland’s strong reputation as a testing environment for new communications and information technology (IT) products. By the end of 2010, there were nearly 3.2 million broadband subscriptions in Finland. Of all subscriptions, about 76 percent were used by households, while the remaining 24 percent were used by corporate customers. During the year, the number of subscriptions grew by almost 722,000, representing an increase of about 29 percent.
As of July 1, 2010, 1 Mbit Internet connection was defined as a universal service. This means that telecom operators defined as universal service providers must be able to provide every permanent residence and business office with access to a reasonably priced and high-quality connection with a downstream rate of at least 1 Mbit/s. In the late 2009 and the early 2010 the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority determined which telecom operators are required to offer universal service programs. The technology used to meet this obligation is up to the service providers.
This requirement is expected to improve the quality and availability of connections in Finland’s sparsely populated areas and to promote the economic vitality of rural areas, provide a good environment for businesses, and further enable electronic communications.
Some variation is allowed in the universal service connection speed to enable services also in mobile networks. The Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority is responsible for monitoring the compliance with the connection speed requirement.
Telecommunications, Computer Hardware and Software
Products on the cutting edge of technology dominate the Finnish hardware market. Modest growth is expected for 2011, as companies increase their ICT investments. Smart phones and tablet PCs are expected to increase in demand.
On the consumer electronics market, HDTV sales continue their growing trend, followed by digital high-tech electronic products. Demand remains high for home-IT equipment. The demand for affordable, light and fast mini laptops is expected to remain high. Future prospects are likely to come from new innovation and advances in existing technology.
Although highly competitive, the telecommunications sector also offers promise, with high demand for Internet and mobile services and content expected to continue. Though mobile phone sales are feeling the economic downturn, the interest in smart phones is high with the proportion of smart phone sales accounting for nearly half the market. With the popularity of mobile Internet, and the increasing numbers of broadband Internet connections, e-commerce is expected to benefit.
Due to high technical standards and the liberalized telecommunications market, Finland serves as an excellent test base for new technologies for U.S. IT companies.