Sweden - Infrastructure, power, and communications

Sweden possesses a modern transportation network, regarded as a vital component of equitable wealth distribution. The country's railroads have 12,821 kilometers (7,967 miles) of track, about a third of them privately owned. A rapid railroad link connects Stockholm's main airport, Arlanda, with the city center, and there is a 16-kilometer (10-mile) long bridge and tunnel across the strait of Ôresund from Malmö in Sweden to Denmark's capital, Copenhagen, opened in 2000. There are 163,453 kilometers (101,570 miles) of paved highways, including 1,439 kilometers (894 miles) of expressways. Sweden has 2,052 kilometers (1,275 miles) of navigable waterways and 84 kilometers (52 miles) of natural-gas pipelines. Major ports and harbors, all equipped with modern terminals, including container handling, include Gaevle, Göteborg, Halmstad, Helsingborg, Hudiksvall, Kalmar, Karlshamn, Malmö, Solvesborg, Stockholm, and Sundsvall, The Swedish merchant fleet comprises 165 modern ships. The Swedish marine carrier Stena Bulk AB has recently partnered with OceanConnect.com , an independent online marketplace, for the sale of marine products and services, but mostly to help buyers and sellers complete fuel transactions.

Since the deregulation of the domestic air market in 1991, several Swedish airlines, such as the Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), Malmö Aviation, and Transwede, have been competing for passengers and cargo. The largest player is SAS, collectively owned by Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. Sweden holds a three-sevenths stake in it, of which the government owns half. SAS is a champion of air-transport liberalization (the "open skies" policy) and has struck many strategic partnerships. In 1998, there were 14 million international departures from the Stockholm airports alone. In 2000, the Swedish government was in the process of privatizing several enterprises in its transportation sector. Norway's Schoyen Gruppen and U.S. investment bank Goldman, Sachs acquired

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Sweden 445 932 531 221.4 464 50.9 361.4 581.47 3,666
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Germany 311 948 580 214.5 170 73.1 304.7 173.96 14,400
Norway 588 915 579 160.1 474 50.0 373.4 754.15 2,000
a Data are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
b Data are from the Internet Software Consortium ( http://www.isc.org ) and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

the public transit company Swebus, including its bus operations in Finland, in 1999. Swebus serves about 30 percent of the market in Sweden with its 3,400 buses and 5,200 employees. In another similar privatization deal, the French company CGEA Transport bought 60 percent of the equity of the Stockholm subway system from the city of Stockholm.

Sweden's energy sector is strong, with energy production and usage per capita being among the highest in Europe. State-run Svenska Kraftnat runs the national electricity grid. The country is rich in water resources, and 46.5 percent of total power is generated by hydro-electricity; nuclear energy supplies 45.1 percent, and thermal plants provide the rest. In 1980, Swedes voted in a referendum to decommission its nuclear plants by 2010, but the law that was needed to enable the decision is still pending in the Riksdag. The parliamentary opposition has undertaken to reverse the law, alleging that there has been a change in public opinion. Sydkraft, a private company that owns a nuclear power plant, is threatening to contest its scheduled closure in the European Court of Justice. Deregulation of Sweden's electricity market began by 2000 with the intent of giving all households the freedom to choose among energy suppliers.

Sweden is among the world's leaders in information technology, computer hardware, software, and services. It has the highest number of phone lines (combined fixed and mobile) per capita, as well as the highest percentage of Internet users in the world. Some 74 percent of Swedish companies and 45 percent of households had Internet access in early 2000. In 2000, the phone infrastructure had 68 fixed lines per 100 inhabitants, and mobile phone penetration was approximately 48 percent. Sweden is also a leader in the implementation of new wireless phone and Internet technology. In 1993, the Swedish telecommunications market was one of the first in Europe to deregulate, and telecom investments in 2000 amounted to more than 6 percent of GDP. Virtually no restrictions protect domestic interests or restrict foreign operations from establishing themselves locally.

The Swedish government emphasizes electronic commerce, both in the consumer and business sectors, encourages state-owned companies to use electronic purchasing as a means for cost-cutting, and is committed to creating a national broadband network aimed at bringing high-speed Internet access to every household, even in the remotest parts of the country. Although the system will be open to all Internet providers, some municipalities have decided not to wait for the national system, expected to be completed in 2005, and have begun building their own networks. Much of the Swedish e-commerce revolution is also driven by the utilities. Faced with falling electricity prices in the deregulated market, they are trying to sell other services with higher profit

margins to their existing customers and use their electricity grids more effectively.

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