The communications minister envisages Finland as a secure data link between Europe and Asia.
The government has been quietly working on a plan to build a high-speed data cable linking Finland to Germany under the Baltic Sea.
The aim is to secure better IT connections with continental Europe and to help attract large firms in the sector to set up in Finland.
Preliminary funding for the project is included in the cabinet’s budget blueprint for next year, which was published on Wednesday.
“We’ll now try to find the best model for how this can be realised – whether the state will go into this alone or with other state partners, and whether there will be private ownership or companies involved,” Communications Minister Krista Kiuru told Yle.
Safer in a crisis
At present, Finland’s data links with the rest of the world go through neighbouring Sweden. Some experts argue that this could be risky in a crisis situation, for instance if banking operations were disabled. Another reason is competition for data business, towards which search giant Google’s decision to set up a server farm in the south-eastern port of Hamina was a small step. Sweden is home to a major Facebook facility, while Norway is also attracting IT investments.
“News that we are planning a sea cable to Germany has already brought inquiries, indicating that the really big IT players are clearly interested in Finland in a completely new way,” she says.
The news comes on the heels of a decision to slash the corporation tax rate to well below that of Sweden and other nearby countries, a move that was agreed on at the same budget conference.
Onward to Asia?
Kiuru suggests that Finland could also provide a link between continental Europe and a planned Russian data cable to Asia via the Northwest Passage – rather grandly envisaging Finland as “the geopolitical centre of European data communications”.
“This will completely transform our status as an extremely attractive Nordic country, one that attracts major new investments because the delay time [needed to send electronic signals] will be shortened and we will practically connect Europe to Asia,” she says.