Harvest comes before internet speed in Bauska

Farmers in Bauska can breathe a sigh of relief now that the Latvian State Radio and Television Center (LVRTC) has agreed to put off laying underground fiber-optic cables in the district until September 1. But local residents won’t have to wait too much longer for their high-speed rural internet connections, either.

As LVRTC spokeswoman Kristine Junkure told business news portal nozare.lv Tuesday, the €26m fiber-optic broadband project backed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) will wait for Bauska district farmers to complete their harvesting work by September 1.  After farmers get their harvests in, digs can again proceed for the installation of underground cables meant to bridge the “digital gap” between towns and the countryside in Latvia.

On Monday project managers led by LVRTC board chairman Janis Bokta and Transport ministry parliamentary secretary Viktors Valainis met with Bauska local government officials and area farmers to arrive at the compromise postponement of digging work until September 1 to accommodate the planned harvest without affecting deadlines.  The LVRTC said it was critical that work could then begin immediately thereafter, as the laying of the fiber-optic cable line will follow a 130-km stretch just through Bauska district alone.  

Farmers completing their crop harvests before September 1 are urged to notify the LVRTC so that the cable-laying can continue ahead of schedule if possible.

“We’re glad to have been able to succeed at this compromise that allows us all to get our work done. Thus both local farmers and district residents can be happy for the chance to use high-speed internet connections in the very near future. However I wish to remind you again that no extensions will be possible – the LVRTC cannot afford to risk a €26m project or suffer any losses from further delays,” Bokta pointed out.

Bauska district deputy council chairman Alvis Feldmanis told nozare.lv the term provided for completing the crop harvests would be sufficient.

Transport ministry spokesman Valainis underscored the significance of the ERDF-supported project ‘Development of next-generation electronic communications networks for rural regions’. “This expansion of our optical network infrastructure is a project of national importance and one of the cornerstones of regional development in Latvia. I will be back in Bauska before the end of August to see how our agreement is being observed and how the harvests are coming in,” he stated in an LVRTC release.

The potential conflict between the layers of Latvia’s internet infrastructure and local farmers came about because many farmers grow their crops on land rented from the Latvian State Roads agency, which in turn was also making the tracts available to the LVRTC for the cable-laying job.

Altogether the ERDF project plans to create 176 access points along about 1,900 kilometers worth of fiber-optic cable lines across the national landscape. Already 1017 kilometers of trenching have been dug, 945 kilometers of cable laid and 69 access points established. The goal of the project is to ensure equal access to high-speed internet for all people in the territory of the Republic of Latvia, thus reducing the currently-felt “digital gap” between urban and rural areas.

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