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Estonia - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Forecasts


Attention: There is an updated edition available for this report.

Estonia is a country leading in technology use. The report covers trends and developments in telecommunications, mobile, Internet, broadband, digital TV and converging media including VoIP and IPTV developments. Subjects include:

  • Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
  • Facts, figures and statistics;
  • Industry and regulatory issues;
  • Infrastructure;
  • Major players, revenues, subscribers, ARPU;
  • Internet, VoIP, IPTV;
  • Mobile voice and data markets;
  • Broadband (FttH, DSL, cable TV, wireless);
  • Convergence and Digital Media.
  Researcher:- Paul Kwon
Current publication date:- May 2009 (8th Edition)
Next publication date:- April 2010


BuddeComm’s Annual Publication, ‘Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband in Estonia’, provides a comprehensive overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications, e-health and converging media markets in Estonia.

Estonia’s telecom market has benefitted from many years of strong economic growth and investment, facilitated through competition and implementation of an EU-mandated regulatory framework which will stand the market in good stead in light of Estonia’s current economic situation.

  Internet usage is high, with the proportion of the population who are Internet users exceeding 64%. The market has moved almost completely from dial-up access to broadband, with DSL subscriptions the most popular, and boasts the highest broadband penetration level of all Eastern European countries, approaching 25%. Widespread Internet usage has underpinned the country’s emerging Internet economy, with various e-commerce and e-government services available and widely used.

  A well developed cable TV sector has provided a strong base for infrastructure-based competition with the network of the largest cable TV operator accessible by over 50% of households. Competition in the digital pay TV market is healthy as take up of broadband TV (IPTV) and satellite pay TV is growing annually. Analogue switch off has been brought forward from the original date of 2012 to July 2010, with a phased transition to complete switch off currently underway.

  A highly developed mobile market is evident, with seven competing GSM or WCDMA networks pushing SIM card penetration levels beyond 100%. To grow revenue service providers are focusing on increasing usage and hence revenue per subscriber, mainly in the form of minutes of use and marketing of mobile broadband services. The latter holds much promise given the current low mobile broadband penetration levels and hence strong annual growth rates of mobile broadband take up.

  Key highlights:

  • Healthy infrastructure based competition in the broadband market is evident as DSL makes up a shrinking proportion of a growing total broadband subscriber base. FttH/FttB has been the biggest gainer, which grew by 40% during 2008 to make up approximately 21% of total fixed broadband subscriptions, a trend expected to continue in the future as the incumbent and competing operators deploy fibre access networks.
  • Broadband TV (IPTV) is used by over 10% of total of TV viewers, with a 40% annual increase in subscriptions during 2008 alone. Subscriber figures for major cable TV operators have remained constant since IPTV was introduced in 2006, suggesting IPTV has been predominantly taken up by first time pay TV subscribers. Growth in satellite pay TV take up was relatively subdued in 2008 after annual growth rates in excess of 100% during the previous two years. Take up growth during 2009 is expected to be affected by Estonia’s current economic woes.
  • Usage of online services is high - over half the population undertakes banking online, checks emails or looks for information and services. Take up of interactive or multimedia online services such as chatting, web TV and VoIP is increasing annually.
  • All Estonian citizens and residents over the age of 15 are issued with an Electronic ID (eID) card which facilitates secure authentication and legally binding digital signatures for public and private online services. The eID is a key enabler of authentication-based online services and hence will facilitate future development and take up of e-commerce and e-government services. A mobile SIM card-based version of eID is also available, opening up opportunities in developing mobile-based or facilitated online services.
  • Over 50% of businesses already utilise e-government services such as filling in and returning forms. Online voting has been used since 2005 and the world’s first parliamentary “e-vote” took place in 2007.
  • A major e-health initiative, the Digital Health Information System project, commenced in 2008 with development to continue until 2013. Initial benefits include making and cancelling appointments with a health care service provider online via one web portal. Participation by all health care service providers is mandatory.
  • Four 3G mobile networks are in operation following the launch of services by a new entrant during 2008. 3G and HSDPA has facilitated introduction of mobile broadband services, with subscriptions increasing annually by over 100% since 2005. The future growth path of mobile broadband is expected to emulate that of the mobile voice market over the coming years as the cost of access and capable handsets decrease and end user awareness and ease of use increases.
Estonia broadband and telecoms statistics - 2005; 2008
Sector | 2005 | 2008 |
Fixed broadband subscribers | 179 | 329 |
Fixed broadband penetration rate | 14% | 25% |
Mobile broadband subscribers | 3 | 90 |
Mobile broadband penetration rate | <1% | 7% |
Fixed-line telephone subscribers | 442 | 500 |
Mobile phone subscribers | 1,420 | 1,620* |
3G subscribers | <1 | 134* |
3G market share of mobile base | <1% | 8%* |
(Source: BuddeComm based on industry data)
Note: *Estimate.  

Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.  

The following notes provide some background to our scenario forecasting methodology:
  • This report includes what we term scenario forecasts.
  • By describing long-range scenarios we identify a band within which we expect market growth to occur. The associated text describes what we see as the most likely growth trend within this band.
  • The projections shown in the tables in this report are based on our own historical information, as well as on telecommunication sector statistics from official and non-official, national and international sources. We assume a possible deviation of 15-20% around this data.
  • All statistics for GDP, revenue, etc are shown in US$, in order to maintain consistency within and between markets. At the same time we acknowledge that this can introduce some irregularities.

1. Key Statistics


2. Telecommunications Market
2.1 Overview of Estonia’s telecom market


3. Regulatory Environment
3.1 Background
3.1.1 EU New Regulatory Framework
3.2 Regulatory authority
3.3 Telecoms sector liberalisation in Estonia
3.3.1 Privatisation
3.3.2 Interconnect
3.3.3 Access
3.3.4 Carrier selection (CS) and Carrier PreSelection (CPS)
3.3.5 Number portability (NP)


4. Fixed Network operators in Estonia
4.1 Overview of operators
4.2 Eesti Telekom (Elion)


5. Telecommunications Infrastructure
5.1 National telecom network
5.1.1 Elion
5.1.2 Alternative operators
5.2 Telecoms & IT
5.3 Wholesaling


6. Internet Market
6.1 Overview
6.1.1 Internet statistics
6.2 Estonia’s emerging Internet society
6.2.1 Estonian Information Society Strategy 2013
6.2.2 Legislation
6.2.3 E-government
6.2.4 E-commerce
6.2.5 E-education
6.2.6 E-health


7. Broadband Market
7.1 Overview
7.1.1 Broadband statistics
7.2 Cable modems
7.3 Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)
7.4 Fibre-to-the-Home (FttH) networks
7.5 Wireless broadband
7.5.1 WiFi
7.5.2 WiMAX


8. Convergence
8.1 VoIP
8.1.1 Elion
8.1.2 Skype
8.2 Triple play
8.3 Overview of broadcasting market
8.4 Digital TV
8.4.1 Broadband TV (IPTV)
8.4.2 Cable TV (CATV)
8.4.3 Satellite-based digital pay TV
8.4.4 Digital Terrestrial TV (DTTV)


9. Mobile Communications
9.1 Overview of Estonia’s mobile market
9.1.1 Mobile statistics
9.2 Regulatory issues
9.2.1 Third Generation (3G) licences
9.2.2 Fourth 3G licence
9.2.3 Mobile Number Portability (MNP)
9.2.4 EU roaming tariffs
9.2.5 Mobile Termination Rates (MTR)
9.3 Mobile technologies
9.3.1 Digital
9.3.2 3G mobile
9.4 Major mobile operators
9.4.1 Eesti Mobiltelefon (EMT)
9.4.2 Radiolinja Eesti/Elisa
9.4.3 Tele2 Eesti
9.4.4 Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)
9.5 Mobile voice services
9.5.1 Prepaid cards
9.6 Mobile data services
9.6.1 Short Message Service (SMS)
9.6.2 Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS)
9.6.3 General Packet Radio Service (GPRS)
9.6.4 Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE)
9.6.5 Mobile TV
9.6.6 Mobile broadband
9.7 Mobile content and applications
9.7.1 Location-based services (LBS)
9.7.2 M-commerce


10. Forecasts
10.1 Forecasts - broadband subscribers to 2019
10.1.1 Scenario 1 - higher broadband subscriber growth
10.1.2 Scenario 2 - lower broadband subscriber growth
10.2 Forecasts - 3G subscriber penetration rates to 2018


11. Glossary of Abbreviations


List of Tables & Exhibits
Table 1 - Country statistics Estonia - 2008
Table 2 - Telephone network statistics - 2008
Table 3 - Internet user statistics - 2008
Table 4 - Internet subscriber statistics - 2008
Table 5 - Broadband statistics - 2008
Table 6 - Mobile statistics - September 2008
Table 7 - National telecommunications authority
Table 8 - Local loop unbundling and share access costs - 2006 - 2008
Table 9 - Eesti Telekom Group financial data - 2007 - 2008
Table 10 - Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1995 - 2008
Table 11 - Elion PSTN/ISDN subscribers & outgoing call minutes - 2002 - 2008
Table 12 - Workplace PC usage by employer size and industry type - 2004 - 2007
Table 13 - Workplace network usage by network type - 2004 - 2007
Table 14 - Wholesale lines by type - January 2009
Table 15 - Elion wholesale broadband subscribers - 2004 - 2008
Table 16 - Internet users, subscribers and penetration rates - 1998 - 2008
Table 17 - Online activities by individuals - 2005 - 2007
Table 18 - Take up of e-government services by businesses - 2004 - 2007
Table 19 - Take up of e-government services by individuals - 2004 - 2007
Table 20 - Proportion of businesses purchasing online - 2004 - 2007
Table 21 - Items purchased online by individuals - 2005 - 2007
Table 22 - Broadband subscribers and penetration rate - 2001 - 2008
Table 23 - Broadband subscribers by access type - January 2009
Table 24 - Fixed broadband lines by speed - January 2009
Table 25 - Broadband market share by ISP - 2004 - 2008
Table 26 - Elion broadband subscribers & ARPU - 2006 - 2008
Table 27 - TV access platforms - January 2009
Table 28 - Elion IPTV subscribers - 2006 - 2008
Table 29 - Cable TV subscribers by provider - 2004 - 2008
Table 30 - Starman operational data - 2005 - 2008
Table 31 - Mobile operators, subscribers and annual change - September 2008
Table 32 - Mobile subscribers and penetration rate - 1998 - 2008
Table 33 - Mobile service provider market share by active SIM cards - January 2009
Table 34 - EMT subscribers & ARPU - 2005 - 2008
Table 35 - Ratio of prepaid to postpaid subscribers - 2000 - 2008
Table 36 - EMT prepaid subscribers - 2002 - 2008
Table 37 - SMS messages sent per operator - 2004 - 2007
Table 38 - MMS messages sent per operator - 2004 - 2007
Table 39 - GPRS users per operator - 2004 - 2007
Table 40 - Mobile broadband subscribers - 2005 - 2008
Table 41 - EMT mobile Internet subscribers - 2006 - 2008
Table 42 - Forecast broadband subscribers - higher market growth scenario - 2009 - 2013; 2019
Table 43 - Forecast broadband subscribers - lower market growth scenario - 2009 - 2013; 2019
Table 44 - Forecast 3G subscriber penetration rates - 2008 - 2012; 2018
Exhibit 1 - The EU regulatory framework for communications
Exhibit 2 - Overview of access, the local loop and unbundling
Exhibit 3 - Number portability defined
Exhibit 4 - The Economist Intelligence Unit annual e-readiness criteria

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