LuxConnect: speeding up the information highways

On 11 September 2006 Jean-Louis Schiltz announced the creation of LuxConnect making it perfectly clear that the government intends to augment connectivity in Luxembourg as quickly as possible.

An often-heard complaint in Luxembourg is that the speed and power of the Internet connections are poor while the prices remain too high. There is certainly no problem with the speed in which the government plans to act on its intention to position Luxembourg as a major player in the world of IT technologies. Communications Minister Jean-Louis Schiltz held a press conference on 11 September to announce the creation of LuxConnect, a new company whose role it is to oversee the installation of the infrastructure that will help to realise this ambition.

LuxConnect"s primary objective is the improvement of international connectivity through the installation of a network with a capacity for high flow between a central point in Luxembourg and primary foreign Internet access centres.

This reflects the government"s ambition to enhance the IT offer for companies established in Luxembourg and to bring down costs for the consumer end user.

The precise aim of the company will be to construct, exploit, and manage the development of one, or several, primary Internet access centres, to oversee activities towards the development and the installation of one or several fibre optics networks which will connect the country to the primary Internet access centres outside of Luxembourg"s borders, to oversee activities towards the development, and the installation of a fibre optic network connecting the national Internet access centres to the primary national centres, and to oversee the administration and the management of the resources connected to this network.

The company"s Board of Directors will be composed (at least) of Dr Thomas Engel (University of Luxembourg), Roland Lners and Paul Schuh (Ministry of State).

As outlined in Law 5598, deposed on 19 July 2006, the government"s ambition is to position the country as a centre of excellence for the activities of electronic trade and management and the storage and distribution of content and electric data. This action falls firmly in line with the objectives of Lisbon and the national plan for innovation and employment.

Not everyone is happy with the government"s new foray into the high-speed Internet business, especially the P&T. As reported in d'Land (25 July 2006), "behind the scenes, it is said that the Post is furious that the government has decided to position themselves in direct competition..." The ministers behind the project, including Jeannot Krecké, Minister of

Economy, see this as a necessary step towards augmenting the offer for international companies who would be ready to establish offices in Luxembourg if the existing Internet networks were greatly enhanced.

In their view, the project is complimentary, not competition. Edouard Wangen (Deputy Manager, Luxembourg Institute of Regulation) has been nominated LuxConnect"s Director and from the moment he joins in mid-October, LuxConnect will be operational.