Smart Solutions

Raudanmaa optical fibre network project

The project built up a comprehensive telecommunications network from optical fibre in the Raudanmaa village area to support existing businesses in the region, enable the emergence of new ones, and improve residents’ access to both public and private services.

What’s the solution?

Raudanmaa villagers established their own fibre optic network co-operative, applied for LEADER funding and after a positive response built up their own fibre optic network for high-speed data transfer.

What makes it smart?

The project built up a comprehensive telecommunications network from optical fibre in the Raudanmaa village area, Kangasala municipality, Finland. The aim was to enable the emergence of new businesses, to support business already in the region and improve residents' access to both public and private services.

Commercial operators and municipality were not willing to engage in the construction of a fibre optic network. This prompted the local people to establish a company themselves to benefit the residents and existing businesses.

Landowners were contacted at a very early phase so the network routes and scheduling of the construction would not disturb the farming yearly schedules for fields and crops. This proved to be a very useful approach as no changes to the routes had to be made in the contracting and building phases.

In addition, the co-operation electric transmission company was a smart way to combine underground cabling of electric wires in the area with the optical fibre network construction. This ensured more security for cost planning and enabled leveraging bidding and negotiations with constructors. Raudanmaa optical fibre network proved to be also a useful pilot project to the electrical transmission company, which is nowadays offering optical fibre network building to their customers.

How is the solution implemented?

  • Pre-planning and analysing the size of the network (length & number of members)
  • In the early stage (Feb 2015) 40 households expressed their interest to join based on an internet query on the village website: http://www.raudanmaa.com.
  • Sept 2015: Establishment of the Raudanmaa fibre optic network co-operative by the core team that had been planning the project, registering the co-operative in national company register, deciding on the rules of the co-operative.
  • Jan 2016: After a more targeted campaign and contacting all the 122 households of the village, 86 households had decided to join.
  • By the time the project was completed, the total number of members was 97, an additional 11 households had joined throughout its duration.
  • Planning the investment and applying for funds for the implementation from the Kantri LAG
  • Feb 2016: Funding application to Kantri LAG of public funding for 180.000,00 €.
  • After the number and locations of members was known, an initial route map of the network was drawn by the co-op board members.
  • The local landowners were contacted, so that the routes would be as much as possible agreed by the time the project starts, and the building schedules could be agreed to suit the farming schedules (so that fields would be worked in the time when crops are not growing).
  • As the local electric transmission company was already planning to replace aerial wires with underground cables in the area, the fibre optic network suggested co-operation to combine the effort, the agreement of the combined project was made in June 2016.
  • Oct 2016: Invitations to tender were planned and sent together with the electric company to 23 constructors, 5 offers were received.
  • Implementing the investment
  • The work division in the project was such that overall responsibility of the network plans and cost management was with the Raudanmaa optic fibre network coop. It had the board following and deciding on practical and financial issues, outsourced person (from the village) to oversee the construction site meetings, and outsourced secretary to handle administrative issues, LAG applications, finances, etc. The contractor had project planning responsibility of the network building, sourcing the needed equipment, all building work and documenting the outcome.
  • Telia was selected as the service provider for the fibre optic network, and their expertise was also used in technical issues and for audits of the network and its documentation.
  • The electric company shared the overall responsibility of the combined project, as most of the network area was common with the electric cabling. Additionally, some very practical tasks could be shared, such as distribution of the contracts to the members, etc.
  • Common meetings with the project participants were held regularly.
  • The selected constructor subcontracted parts of the building work, and unfortunately some of the crews were not very professional (they were changed in the middle of the project). This caused delays and also resulted in cost deductions in the final phase of cost evaluation. In some cases a new crew had to be invited to clean up the final landscaping work on individual properties.
  • All of the material listings and network maps were checked carefully by the cooperative board as well as external auditors to ensure the final quality was satisfactory.
  • The network empty cables for future optic fibre were also spot tested at the end by external company to verify the future capacity and quality of the work. This also resulted in some compensation as not all cables were 100% usable.
  • The network was in use for all the co-op members in January 2018.
  • Final works, documentation and audits, and final evaluation continued throughout 2019.
  • The last invoice was paid in December 2019 and the project was officially closed and the final report to Kantri LAG was handed over on 31.12.2019.

In what local context has it been applied?

Raudanmaa is a developing village in Kangasala, in a beautiful lake landscape close to the biggest inland city of Finland, Tampere. The weakness of telecommunication connections has presented a bottleneck for some companies in terms of business expansion and teleworking.

At the end of 2014, the villagers started to think about creating a fibre optic network through the Raudanmaa Village Association.

Who was behind the implementation?

Raudanmaa optical fibre network co-operative, a company owned and run by the villagers. The project was carried out in close cooperation with Raudanmaa Village Association as well as Elenia Ltd, national electric transmission company and TeliaSonera Ltd, commercial optical fibre network operator.

Co-operative is a company from where each member owns shares of the co-operative and has decision right in the co-operative yearly meeting. Co-operative members typically utilise the services of the co-operative. The practical work is done by elected board, in this case consisting of three members.

What was the local journey?

Problems were caused by delays in the subcontracting of the selected contractor and the quality of the final works, which had to be complained about on several occasions. As a result of delays and complaints noted in the invoice, the final cost was reduced.

What have been the main outputs & results?

  • The construction of the fibre optic network as a common project was quite successful and the costs could be predicted well. The fibre-optic network has been operating smoothly since the beginning and has provided weather-proof and sufficient capacity for telecommunications connections in its area.
  • Entrepreneurs in the area have been pleased with the operation of the network.
  • In early 2019 when the project ended, there were 97 subscriptions altogether, so 80% of households within the network operating area joined the cooperative.

What does it bring the village/community?

  • The project supports sustainable development in many ways: by improving the access to public and private services and providing teleworking opportunities to improve and reduce the need for commuting between homes and offices. Fibre optics are a reliable technology for decades to come.

What’s needed

Financial resources

Financial needs:

Physical infrastructure investment cost

Main types of cost:

Initial/set-up costs: € 324,160.00

Ongoing/recurring annual costs: € 0 for the village association, the network user households pay currently:

o 100 € yearly network fee to the cooperative for maintenance and administrative costs;

o Fees for services provided by the service operator.

Funding received:
SourceAmountFunded
Public funding through LEADER Kantri LAG180,000 €The physical infrastructure investment cost, public network
Voluntary work of the villagers15,000 €The physical infrastructure investment cost
Raudanmaa optical fibre network co-op. (villagers’ own company)129,160 €The physical infrastructure investment cost
Telia75,000 €Bridge funding (loan) at the initial phase of building to cover for costs

Human resources

The project required voluntary input of many villagers and development enthusiasts, one of the board members had some prior knowledge of optical fibre networks and was working for the commercial operator, so it was possible to get useful contacts to negotiate with or check some technical details

Many participants were entrepreneurs with knowledge of contracting and negotiations. Technical details were learnt during the project.

Leadership skills, technical project management skills (overseeing the technical meetings on the building sites)

Physical resources

Not very rocky parts in the network route

What to do…

  • Contact the landowners at an early stage;
  • Use local contact persons in the planning, selling & management of the project;
  • Involve the villagers, distribute information regularly;
  • Keep the network operating area feasible;
  • Select the constructor based on their prior quality record, kept schedules, not only cost!
  • Monitor progress & cost reports carefully.

and not to do

  • Do not leave the project solely to the responsibility of the constructor(s);
  • Do not plan the network in too sparsely populated area or a difficult terrain to avoid unnecessary costs;
  • Do not only look at the cost when selecting the constructor.

Contact

(read privacy policy)
Funded by