Mobile communications and the Internet as an influence on the range of services

Service enterprises, i.e. enterprises providing rental, commercial or personal services, have done fairly well during the past couple of years, demonstrating a yearly growth rate of 11% at the turn of the millennium. Commercial services (advertising, public relations, business consultancy, accounting and auditing services) make up three quarters of the service sector. Many providers of commercial services are members of well-known foreign groups of enterprises – a fact that demonstrates improved know-how in this field.

Communication services have witnessed rapid technological development since the 1990s and many new services have been successfully introduced to the market. In 2001, for example, 54% of the entire population were using mobile phones and the number seems to be increasing. At the moment there are three mobile operators in Estonia and in 2003 two more companies are planning to start providing services using existing networks. Back in the Soviet times it was not unusual to wait for years before getting a fixed telephone. Now waiting-lists are almost non-existent in urban areas and radio telephones are used in rural areas. Thanks to developments in digital technology, the quality of communications has improved considerably. The onset of mobile communications has somewhat diminished the number of subscribers to fixed telephone networks and thus operators see the development of direct connection services as their main task for the future. Telephone operators claim that the network of public pay phones, which received a lot of attention at the beginning of the 1990s, is no longer profitable because of the possibilities offered by mobile communications.

Although letters sent by conventional mail are still used for formal correspondence by public authorities, e-mail is rapidly gaining supremacy in personal correspondence. Computers and the Internet are increasingly widespread in Estonia and, in addition to companies and enterprises, also a majority of families with at least an average standard of living consider Internet access a necessity. Public Access Internet Points created by the state and local authorities and the national project Look@World, which was launched with the help of banks and IT-companies, have also contributed to the increasing use of computers. Because of developments in technology and dropping prices, people are using wireless networks, lap-top computers and palm-tops more and more often.

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