Internet in Iceland

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The use of the Internet in Iceland places Iceland among the top countries in the world in terms of Internet deployment and use.


Data compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows Iceland with:[1]

  • 83.2% of households having broadband Internet access in 2009 (2nd out of 34)
  • 99.5% of businesses using the Internet in 2009-2010 (2nd out of 31)
  • 91.5% of the broadband access being DSL in 2010
  •  8% of broadband connections using optical fiber in 2010

The Global Information Technology Report 2010–2011[2] by the World Economic Forum ranked Iceland:

  • 1st out of 138 in terms of Internet users (93.5% of the population used the Internet in 2009)
  • 1st out of 138 in the use of virtual social networks (a score of 6.8 in 2009-2010, where 1 is not at all and 7 is widely)
  • 1st out of 138 in terms of Internet access in schools (a score of 6.76 in 2009-2010, where 1 is very limited and 7 is extensive)
  • 1st out of 138 in accessibility of digital content (a score of 6.62 in 2009-2010, where 1 is not accessible at all and 7 is widely accessible)
  • 1st out of 137 in the number of secure Internet servers (1,711.3 servers per million population in 2009)
  • 4th out of 138 in the extent of business Internet use (a score of 6.58 in 2009-2010, where 1 is not at all and 7 is extensively)
  • 5th out of 138 in terms of international Internet bandwidth (626.8 Mbit/s per 10,000 population in 2009)
  • 12th out of 138 in terms of laws related to information and communication technology (a score of 5.46 in 2009-2010, where 1 is nonexistent and 7 is well developed)
  • 25th out of 138 in terms of intellectual property protection (a score of 5.09 in 2009-2010, where 1 is very weak and 7 is very strong)
  • 35th out of 107 in the use of unlicensed software (an estimated 49% of software was unlicensed in 2009)
  • 45th out of 138 in terms of freedom of the press (a score of 5.76 in 2009-2010, where 1 is totally restricted and 7 is completely free)

In 2007, Seltjarnarnes became the world's first town where every citizen had access to fiber optics.[3]


ADSL in Iceland is ADSL2+ (since mid-2005) in the capital and well populated areas and ADSL in other places.[citation needed]

The main providers as of 2015 are: Iceland Telecom (Síminn hf), Vodafone Iceland (Fjarskipti ehf) and 365 Media.[4]


Iceland is currently connected via these submarine communications cable system to the rest of the world:[5]


The early history of the Internet in Iceland:[6]

  • In 1986 Iceland obtained a UUCP connection between the Marine Research Institute in Iceland to EUnet (European Unix Network) headquarters in Amsterdam. The connection provided e-mail and Usenet services. Bandwidth was somewhere between 300 and 1200 bits per second (bps).
  • In 1989 a connection to the Internet was established using IP over X.25 with NORDUnet in Denmark at 2400 bit/s.
  • In 1990 a leased line connection to NORDUnet in Stockholm operating at 9600 bit/s was established. This link was upgraded to operate at 56,000 bit/s in 1992, 128,000 bit/s in 1994, 256,000 bit/s and then 1,000,000 bit/s in 1995, and 1,984,000 in 1996.
  • In 1994 the first commercial Internet services, Midheimar ehf, opened with SLIP/PPP access giving people access to the web for the first time from their homes.
  • In March 1997 ISnet (a collective term for the Icelandic segments of NORDUnet and EUnet) established a direct connection to Teleglobe in Montreal, Canada at 9600 bit/s. to supplement the European connection. This line was moved to New York City and upgraded to 48,178,001 bit/s in September 1999.
  • In January 2004 the submarine communications fibre cable system FARICE-1 was put into commercial operation with a design capacity of 720 Gbit/s and lit capacity of 20 Gbit/s (and in August 2013 upgraded to a design capacity of 8000 Gbit/s and a lit capacity of 200 Gbit/s).[7]
  • In September 2009 the submarine communications fibre cable DANICE was put into commercial operation with an original design capacity of 5120 Gbit/s (and later upgraded to a design capacity of at least 16 Terabit/s and a lit capacity of 200 Gbit/s). Additionally Greenland Connect as third cable was installed at the same time.[7]


Censorship is prohibited by the Icelandic Constitution and there is a strong tradition of protecting freedom of expression that extends to the use of the Internet.[8] However, questions about how best to protect children, fight terrorism, prevent libel, and protect the rights of copyright holders are ongoing in Iceland as they are in much of the world.

The five Nordic countries—Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland—are central players in the European battle between file sharers, rights holders, and Internet service providers (ISPs). While each country determines its own destiny, the presence of the European Union (EU) is felt in all legal controversies and court cases. Iceland, while not a member of the EU, is part of the European Economic Area (EEA) and has agreed to enact legislation similar to that passed in the EU in areas such as consumer protection and business law.[9]

Internet service providers in Iceland use filters to block Web sites distributing child pornography. Iceland's ISPs in cooperation with Barnaheill—Save the Children Iceland participate in the International Association of Internet Hotlines (INHOPE) project. Suspicious links are reported by organizations and the general public and passed on to relevant authorities for verification.

In 2012 and 2013 Ögmundur Jónasson, Minister of Interior, proposed two bills to the Icelandic parliament that would limit Icelander's access to the Internet. The first proposed limitations on gambling[10] and the second on pornography.[11][12] Neither bill was passed by the Icelandic parliament and a new government has since been formed following the parliamentary election held on 27 April 2013.[13]


On 10 June 2009 the two major ISPs in Iceland, Vodafone Iceland and Iceland Telecom at the behest of SAFT (Save the Children Iceland) and other interest groups instated a null route on the website, making it inaccessible to most commercial Internet users in Iceland.[14][15] Other members of the Reykjavik Internet Exchange didn't institute the null route, but both Vodafone and Síminn blocked it at their Icelandic routers.

The domain subsequently expired[16] and the site was taken down by its operator. But a similar site sprang up to replace it.

Both Vodafone Iceland [17] and Síminn[18] updated their blocks to null route, the IP address resolves to. was a 4chan-like image board in the Icelandic language which had been making the news for cyber-bullying, child porn and similar material.[19] The administrators of the site had rejected these accusations, citing their strict policies of banning users who posted child pornography.[20] had been set up after a similar site,, had been voluntarily closed down by its operator on request of the Iceland Capital Police following their investigation into the matter.[21]

The block against was instated at the behest of the National Police of Iceland, Iceland Capital Police, the Child Protection Authority of Iceland (part of the Iceland Ministry of Social Affairs), Save the Children Iceland (SAFT) (a private organization) and various other private and government groups, which made public statements encouraging all internet service providers in the country to block access to the site.[22]

Thus the censorship in Iceland is not explicitly government mandated, but implemented voluntarily by private corporations in response to pressure from government and private institutions. Vodafone conducted a legal review to investigate whether it was within its rights to restrict access to the website, and after finding that they were within their rights instituted the block.

In a statement two days after the initial block Hrannar Pétursson, the press secretary for Vodafone, indicated that it was not on Vodafone's agenda to implement a more general censoring mechanism, but as was an "exaggerated example of such a case" Vodafone considered the act justifiable.[23] His colleague Margrét Stefánsdóttir at Síminn echoed those remarks, saying that Síminn would never close a page on its own initiative, but when faced with such serious requests they were compelled to act.[23]

Since is hosted on a shared web hosting service, and the block takes the form of a null route any other sites that happen to share the same IP address are also blocked. As of 30 September 2010 these were the private E-Mail gateway, the cosmetics manufacturer, the construction company, the printing house and the boilerplate site[24] As of 8 February 2011, had changed IP addresses and is therefore no longer blocked by Vodafone. The null route is still in place, so collateral damage is the only result from this incident.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "OECD Broadband Portal", Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 13 April 2011
  2. ^ The Global Information Technology Report 2010–2011, Soumitra Dutta and Irene Mia (eds.), INSEAD and the World Economic Forum, 2011, 435 pp.
  3. ^ "Seltjarnarnes" page on the Idega web site
  4. ^ Statistics on the Icelandic telecommunications market 2015. Post and telecom administration in Iceland. (PDF) pp. 34
  5. ^ Submarine Cable Map: Connected to Iceland, TeleGeography, 18 September 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  6. ^ "Internet Diffusion: Iceland", Cathy Newman, Kogod School of Business, American University, Washington, D.C.
  7. ^ a b Farice: The background of the FARICE-1 cable
  8. ^ "New legislation to provide exemplary protection for freedom of information", Reporters Without Borders, 21 June 2010
  9. ^ "ONI Regional Overview: Nordic Countries", OpenNet Initiative, March 2010
  10. ^ "Vill banna happdrætti á netinu" (Icelandic), English translation: "Wants to ban gambling online", RŰV: Icelandic National Radio, 18 October 2012
  11. ^ "Iceland seeks internet pornography ban", Associated Press, The Guardian, 25 February 2013
  12. ^ "Iceland's porn ban 'conflicts with the idea of a free society', say critics", Jemima Kiss, The Guardian, 28 February 2013
  13. ^ "Iceland campaigns to restrict internet porn", Alexandra Topping, The Guardian (Reykjavik), 26 May 2013
  14. ^ "Lokað fyrir aðgang að netsíðu". Reykjavík, Iceland: Ritstjórn Morgunblaðsins. 10 June 2009. (Icelandic) English translation: "Blocking access to web site"
  15. ^ "Síminn lokar á síðu". Reykjavík, Iceland: Ritstjórn Morgunblaðsins. 10 June 2009.  (Icelandic) English translation: "Getting close to a page"
  16. ^ "whois lookup for". 
  17. ^ "Vodafone - Looking Glass Results for". 
  18. ^ "Síminn - Looking Glass Results for". 
  19. ^ "Netníðingar leggja börn í einelti]". Reykjavík, Iceland: Ritstjórn DV. 25 March 2009.  (Icelandic) English translation: "Netníðingar put children in bullying"
  20. ^ "Brugðist skjótt við barnaklámi]". Reykjavík, Iceland: Ritstjórn DV. 25 March 2009.  (Icelandic) English translation: "Respond quickly to child pornography"
  21. ^ "Lögreglan lokar barnaklámsíðu". Reykjavík, Iceland: Ritstjórn DV. 13 February 2008.  (Icelandic) English translation: "Police block child pornography site"
  22. ^ "Vodafone lokar á ringulreið". Reykjavík, Iceland: Ritstjórn DV. 10 June 2009.  (Icelandic) English translation: "Vodafone closes in Confusion"
  23. ^ a b "Ekki á stefnuskránni að hefja ritskoðun á netinu". Reykjavík, Iceland: Ritstjórn Morgunblaðsins. 12 June 2009.  (Icelandic) English translation: "Not planning to start online censorship"
  24. ^ "IP info for".