Juhan Partsis theMinister of Economic Affairs and Communications. MrParts has been leading the ministry since April 2007, when the government coalition between the Reform Party and the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union was formed.In 2003 and from 2005 to 2007 Mr Partswas a member of the 10th and 11th Riigikogus. Juhan led the government of Estonia as Prime Minister from 2003 to 2005. From 2002 to 2005 he was the Chairman of the Res Publica party. From 1998 to 2002,Mr Parts worked as the Auditor General. From 1992 to 1998 he was the Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice.
Juhan Parts is a qualified lawyer, graduated from the University of Tartu cum laude in 1991.
Estonia is gearing up to attract tourists, and tourists want the Internet. Local city authorities brought together businesses and encouraged them to invest in common Internet access infrastructure, delivering free WiFi everywhere, which is managed centrally. Mobile Internet in roaming is far too expensive, but responding to the EU directives, Estonian operators reduced charges considerably, resulting in rising revenues. In fact, Mobile Internet revenues have surpassed those from numerous mobile apps that rarely survive 30 days. To encourage tourism further, Estonia is also urging local organisations to embrace consumer online booking, where decisions are made on-the-spot, and address social mediawith enticing tourists’ packages.
Paraphrasing the Descartes old statement cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am), we can safely say nowadays: I communicate, therefore I am.
The world is becoming smaller and our communication opportunities are becoming increasingly wider. Most of us can be, very probably, contacted 24/7 and we feel rather helpless when we cannot browse the news quickly or exchange thoughts with people we need when we are away from home. When we travel outside Estonia,we find it rather irritating to have to put up with the substandard services of local mobile operators or internet service providers.Unlike a decade ago,in Estoniawe now consider the mobile phone and the Wi-Fi networks, which cover the whole country, something like a human right.
The triumph of mobile internet
According to forecasts (Morgan and Stanley), the use of mobile internet will exceed the volume of internet use with desktop computers already in 2015. Tourists first of all need an opportunity to record what they see and share their emotions with their friends and family.
Tourists in a foreign country need information about transport, sights, events and persons interesting to them.In the 21st century, a tourist carries the basic means of communication: a computer, a tablet or a mobile phone, but how to connect these devices to a network in a foreign country? Roaming servicesfor mobile voice and data communication are difficult and expensive,consequently tourists prefer making voice over IP calls and instant messaging.
Estonia makes a great effort for tourism promotion, and the development of free Wi-Fi in tourism areas is a part of this work. The required infrastructure is created in cooperation with businesses andlocal government.In Estonia, the TartuCity has been one of the most efficient developers of the internet network by making a consolidated investment and installing centrally administered Wi-Fi transmitters for the city businesses under an agreement with them to share the common internet connection.Tourists like to stay where access to fast and free internet is ensured in almost all businesses which provide services to tourists in the city: in cafes, restaurants, guest houses andhotels.The service is maintained by businesses thatneed internet in their daily work. Businesses and tourists share network resources of the centrally administered Wi-Fi. Through the Wi-Fi gateways, the businesses and the city provide information to tourists about themselves and tourists spread that information further when they exchange messages through Wi-Fi and communicate to others.
Mobile internet is preferred to mobile applications
It is remarkable that more than 300,000 different mobile applications have been developed for tourism in the course of the last three years. However, every fourth application used in a mobile phone is downloaded for one-time use only and will never be used again. The average lifetime of a mobile application is said to be only 30 days.Mobile internet has more users than different mobile applications and is more durable. Developing mobile internet in Estonia benefits from the high Internet coverage. We can also boast low roaming fees. This creates good preconditions for mobile internet to become a marketing channel which provides location-based services and up-to-date information. This is an important advantage for the small Estonia in comparison with larger countries where the Internet coverage area is so fragmented and expensive that development of mobile internet is unreasonable.
There is a growing demand for mobile internet when travelling. People increasingly wishto stay online and use abroad their smart phones that they are using at home. They want to keep an eye on their e-mails, local news, and evenlook at the weather forecast. For a long time, mobile internet abroad was very expensive, and people could get shocking invoices when they came home. We appreciate the efforts of the European Union in capping and lowering fees. In Estonia, several operators have done much more than the mandatory lowering of fees. Since May last year, the clients of the leading Estonian mobile operator can be confident: the daily limits for mobile internet, which have been introduced as a new technical solution, provide the assurance that the daily use does not exceed a specific amount. Currently, these daily limits apply in the EU countries but it is intended to apply them also in the rest of the world. The volumes of use of mobile internet increased hundreds of times after establishing the daily limits – which proved once again that the need to use mobile internet when travelling existed but the price kept it back.
The Mobile-ID service developed in Estonia by EMT makes it possible to log in to online banks and give digital signatures securely, even when in foreign countries. The ID card can be used for the same purpose but it requires a card reader and special software in the computer – which most computers in Internet cafes outside Estonia do not have.
Internet favours independent decision-making
People often travel individually, not in groups, nowadays, takeing weekend trips and short trips. There is a growing trend of tourists coming to Estonia or going from Estonia for just a short tripthat needs to be supported by web communication and online channels. The main emphasis inthe travel industry has shifted to online channels, unlike the earlier long-term planning through travel agencies, visits to fairs, publications and other traditional channels.
The role of online channels is extremely important in making travel decisions - it has exceeded 60 per centalready according to a survey performed in 2009 and has considerably increased since. In order to attract tourists and related investmentto thecountry, solutions tosupport this trend should be developed.
Visitorsmakedecisions on trips on the basis of website content, getting inspiration from the website content, planning and booking the trip based on website content. All is done online, on-the-spot. This means that technologies, websites and software solutions must allow people to acquire important information within seconds and to plan and book a trip there and then.Otherwise visitors will just go to a next website and make theirtravel decisionor purchasethere.
Most communication in social media channels takes place online and most organisations engaged in tourism marketing already spend the lion’s share of their marketing budgets on solutions related to social media. Marketing and communication in social media does not mean just Facebook – actually, channels of social media channels vary with countries. Most solutions are intended for the provision of location based information – i.e. a visitor has to get specific information and offers related to his or her location.
The aim of the European Union is to ensure equal opportunities for the consumption of goods and services forcitizens of all of its Member States. The same has to apply to the area of communication and it is quite clear that both common rules and cooperation between different Member States, mobile operators, telecommunication companies and service providers are required for finding solutions.
We communicate in order to exist and to do it better than ever before.