Bratislava, February 6 (TASR) – Telecom operators should cover so-called white spots (areas lacking broadband infrastructure) in Slovakia with internet connection by 2020, with their commitments being defined by memorandums on cooperation signed on Tuesday by Vice-premier for Investments and Informatisation Peter Pellegrini (Smer-SD) and officials from Orange Slovensko, O2 Slovakia and Slovak Telekom.
The major telecom operators, as well as the Local Internet Providers Association, have pledged themselves to cover Slovakia through their own investments so that there is not a single remaining white spot on the map, said Pellegrini following the signing.
Digital infrastructure in this country is at least as important as transport infrastructure, stressed the vice-premier, adding that this means there is an obligation for operators to invest hundreds of millions of euros. “I would like to assure them, from the Slovak Government’s position, that we’ll be good partners and that we’ll strive to create the conditions for them to be able to implement such a large investment,” he said. If the memorandum’s goal is met, Slovakia will belong among the leaders in the EU without white spots, added Pellegrini.
According to Pellegrini, some €80 million has been allocated for expanding internet access in the Operational Programme Integrated Infrastructure. Slovakia will not have to invest in building optic cables in remote villages and can thus shift the funds elsewhere. “We would like to use some of this money for towns and villages that want to provide free internet access in their squares, libraries or hospitals, while another portion should be used to cover transport corridors,” said Pellegrini.
The vice-premier said that talks will also be held with the Transport and Construction Ministry as a steering body of this operational programme. If there are dozens of millions of euros left after financing wifi connections and covering railway corridors and highways, he would like to shift the money to covering motorway and expressway project documentation.
Orange Slovensko general director Pavol Lancaric said the operators will need cooperation and support from local governments and their construction offices while meeting the memorandum.
Pellegrini signed memorandums with Orange Slovensko general director Pavol Lancaric, O2 Slovakia general director Peter Gazik and Slovak Telekom chief legal and corporate affairs officer Jan Pitonak, He will sign 40 more partial contracts with the Local Internet Providers Association’s secretary Marek Petruska.