The little country that could is becoming the little country that is:
E-Stonia The country ranked No 8 out of 82 countries in putting the net to practical use in a recent World Economic Forum report. The country ranked is ranked No 2 in internet banking and third in e-government. Estonia has leapfrogged countries that are using older technologies with many Estonians who now rely on wireless phones have never had a landline phone. And most who now use the internet to pay bills have never used a cheque book. About 70 per cent of Estonians own mobile phones - about the same as the European Union average.
Estonia blazes internet trail [Smart Mobs]
Further, Estonia has the highest rate of public Internet access points (PIAPs) per capita in the world. Granted its only 300 out of 1.5 million people. Thanks to the Tiger Leap initative started by my former boss, all of Estonia's schools have been connected to the Internet. Compared with just 7 percent in 1997, 40 percent of the population now has Internet access, either at home or at work.
Estonia became E-stonia because:
- Absence of legacy infrastructure
- Latent demand for open communication and technology
- The highest level of education outside the first world
- A key concession agreement when the state telecom that was privatized that opened IP transport to competition
- 35% of the population speaks English, their language of international business
- During the Soviet occupation, Finnish TV could be recieved in northern Estonia, providing a window to the west
- Public sector initatives like PIAPs, Tiger Leap and EEBone
From the day the first international link went up (64k by Satellite!), connectivity mushroomed. I had a small hand in these great stats, starting the first broadband ISP, a startup that initiated one of the first Internet banking systems and working for a GSM provider.
The first thing I did that I could call blogging happened while working at the Office of the President of Estonia. After making the President's website, I clipped and annotated foreign policy news from Lexis Nexis and distributed it by email. This was before they had an Intranet, now 95% of government workers have Internet access. Another startup of mine
"If a Frenchman loves to sip wine with his friends and a German enjoys his beer, then an Estonian likes to sit behind his computer on a dark evening, surfing the Net and at the same time talking on his mobile phone," Estonian communications executive Toomas Somera once said.
There is another reason for this, in the winter its too damn cold and dark to do much anything else. But in the summer, ah the summer, when the sun barely sets, people step back from their computers and enjoy the warmth while it lasts. I'm planning a trip back to Estonia next month with my wife who is Estonian, just in time for Jaanipaev. May step back from the computer, but I know that I wont be disconnected if need be.
Elagu Eesti! (long live Estonia)