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. The use of internet in Iceland is widespread. Iceland has been at the forefront of adopting new internet access technologies starting in the early 1990s with dial-up connections. Today, 1Gbit/s speeds are available to 82% of citizens through full-fibre networks.[1]

Iceland is a world leader in fibre internet deployment: 1 Gbit/s internet services have been available to homes since 2016.[2] Gagnaveita Reykjavíkur (owned by the city of Reykjavík) has deployed a PTP fibre network, with the incumbent largest conventional copper provider, Míla(owned by Síminn) transitioning to a GPON fibre network in the coming years.

The Government of Iceland's goal is for 99% of homes and businesses to have access to at least 100Mbit/s speeds by the year 2022.[3] The government has engaged in a programme called Ísland Ljóstengt running from 2016 to 2021. It funds FTTH(GPON) deployment to 5,500 rural locations allowing this goal to be reached.[4]

Broadband internet access gained rapid popularity in Iceland due to the early use of IPTV technologies in the early 2000s. Cable and Satellite TV services are next to nonexistent and therefore the provision of TV through DSL or fiber was in high demand. The majority of connections in Iceland are by VDSL or fibre with Síminn and Vodafone being the main providers.


In terms of terms of types of connections; fibre (PTP and GPON), VDSL/2, ADSL are the most common types. 95.6% of DSL services are FTTC, mostly provided by Síminn. xDSL use peaked in 2008 at 98% of connections, and has been decreasing since as connections are being replaced by fibre. A minority of connections are by provided by fixed wireless in the most remote of locations.

  • 62.1% of broadband connections using optical fiber (FTTH) in 2018.[5]
  • 36.9% of the broadband access being xDSL in 2019. Out of which 4.4% are ADSL connections, the rest being VDSL/2
  • 0.7% of connections by cable (DOCSIS).
  • 0.28% of access is provided by fixed wireless.

Although 82% of homes have full fibre access[6], 62.1% of connections utilise the fibre connection mainly due to the fact that Síminn (the largest telecommunications provider in Iceland) does not use Gagnveita Reykjavíkur's (see below) fibre network as they are building their own GPON network.

Internet speeds in Iceland are generally faster than average world internet speeds, generally due to high penetration of FTTH and FTTC. In terms of advertised download speeds:

  • 54.8% of connections are 500Mbit/s and above
  • 14.2% of connections are between 100 and 500Mbit/s and above.
  • 30.8% of connections are between 10 and 100Mbit/s.
  • Only 0.2% of connections are below 10Mbit/s.[5]

Gagnaveita Reykjavíkur's(GR) full fibre network extends to 120.000+ homes Reykjavík and surrounding towns,[2] allowing 100% of homes in Reykjavík and surrounding area to connect to fibre internet as of 2016. GR also operates fibre networks in smaller towns such as Akranes, Þorlákshöfn, Hella and Hvolsvöllur,[7] this is planned to be expanded to Selfoss and Reykjanesbær by 2020.[1] GR's network delivers speeds of 1Gbit/s to all customers.

There are other smaller fibre networks run by local municipalities and companies, a major one being Tengir in the north east of Iceland providing a fibre network to Akureyri and surrounding regions offering up to 1Gbit/s speeds.

Internet Service Providers[edit]

The main providers as of 2018 are: Síminn, Vodafone Iceland, Nova and Hringdu.

The telecoms market in Iceland has become increasingly diversified over the past 20 years since the privatisation of the state telecom and postal administration, currently offering services as Síminn. Many new providers use Gagnveita Reykjavikur's (GR) full fibre network to offer 3 play services of Internet, TV and phone services. GR merely runs the infrastructure of the FTTH network and charges a flat fee of 2.999kr (around US$30)[8] per month to access the network. Internet services are then resold through telecommunications companies, the largest being Vodafone. Notably, Síminn refuses to resell internet products through GR as they operate their own network, Míla.[2] Míla delivered 1Gbit/s speeds through its fibre network starting in February 2017.

The ISP market share as of 2018 is divided as follows:[9]

Síminn: 46.6%

Vodafone: 33.6%

Nova: 9.7%

Hringdu: 7.7%

Others: 2.4%

International/Submarine connectivity[edit]

Iceland is currently connected with a total capacity of 62 Tbit/s via submarine communications cable system to the rest of the world:[10][11]

Iceland's first submarine cable providing packet switching, CANTAT-3 had an original capacity of 2 x 2.5 Gbit/s to Denmark, Germany, and the Faroe Islands. CANTAT-3 is now out of normal use for internet traffic in Iceland and is operated by Teleglobe for oil platforms.

Main provider of international capacity is Farice ehf.

The submarine cable capacities have been repeatedly upgraded over time as the demands of increased bandwidth use in Iceland, as end equipment technology has improved. Previously DANICE and FARICE operated with 300Gbit links and Greenland Connect with a 20Gbit link but were upgraded in 2014 to their current capacity using coherent 100G wavelength and flex grid technology.

Ping Times[edit]

As Iceland is geographically situated in the mid-atlantic, it has shorter ping times to locations in Europe than North America. Here are a few examples of nominal ping times from Iceland:

Amsterdam: 17.8ms

Budapest: 26.0ms

Glasgow: 13.0ms

London: 18.9ms

New York: 40.6ms

Halifax: 33.7ms


Internet access is widespread in Iceland and there has been rapid growth in use since the early 2000s. Data compiled by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows Iceland with:[12]

  • 98.2% of households having broadband Internet access in 2016 (1st out of 34)[13]
  • 99.5% of businesses using the Internet in 2009-2010 (2nd out of 31)

The Global Information Technology Report 2010–2011[14] 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)


The early history of the Internet in Iceland:[15]

  • 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.
  • 1999 marked the first year ADSL services were available in Iceland.
  • 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).[16]
  • 2004 FTTH trials began of Orkuveita Reykjavíkur building a fibre optic network, operating through a subsidiary called Gagnveita Reykjavíkur (GR) with a 100Mbit/s connection.
  • In 2007, Seltjarnarnes became the world's first town where every citizen had access to fiber optics.[17]
  • In 2008, xDSL use peaked in Iceland with 98% of connections.
  • 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.[16]
  • From 2009, VDSL services became active from Míla in Reykjavík and larger towns offering 50-100Mbit/s services.
  • In October 2016, Gagnveita Reykjavíkur upgraded its network from 100Mbit to 1Gbit/s symmetric connections to all customers.
  • In 2018, full fibre connections surpassed xDSL use for the first time.[9]
  • 2018 marked the year that 100% of homes in the Reykjavík area had FTTH access.[1]


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.[18] 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.[19]

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[20] and the second on pornography.[21][22] 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.[23]


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.[24][25] Other members of the Reykjavik Internet Exchange did not institute the null route, but both Vodafone and Síminn blocked it at their Icelandic routers.

The domain subsequently expired[26] and the site was taken down by its operator. But a similar site sprang up to replace it.

Both Vodafone Iceland [27] and Síminn[28] 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.[29] The administrators of the site had rejected these accusations, citing their strict policies of banning users who posted child pornography.[30] 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.[31]

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.[32]

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.[33] 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.[33]

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[34] 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. ^ a b c "Ljósleiðarinn er á leiðinni til Reykjanesbæjar". Ljósleiðarinn (in Icelandic). 2018-04-05. Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  2. ^ a b c "Iceland number one country worldwide in homes connected to fiber". Genexis. 2016-12-15. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
  3. ^ "593/141 þál. (samhlj.): tólf ára fjarskiptaáætlun fyrir árin 2011--2022". Alþingi (in Icelandic). Retrieved 2019-06-09.
  4. ^ "Ísland Ljóstengt". Stjórnarráð Íslands. 1 June 2019.
  5. ^ a b Póst of Fjarskiptastofnun (14 May 2020). "Tölfræðiskýrsla PFS um íslenska fjarskiptamarkaðinn 2019" (PDF).
  6. ^ "Ljósleiðarinn". Ljósleiðarinn. Retrieved 2020-10-18.
  7. ^ "Ljósleiðarinn". Ljósleiðarinn. Retrieved 2017-01-10.
  8. ^ "Verðskrá". 2015-11-09.
  9. ^ a b "Post and Telecom Administration of Iceland Statistic Book 2018" (PDF). Post and Telecom Administration of Iceland. 1 June 2019.
  10. ^ Submarine Cable Map: Connected to Iceland, TeleGeography, 18 September 2013. Retrieved 22 September 2013.
  11. ^ Landsvirkun (2016). "Data Connectivity in Iceland a White Paper" (PDF).
  12. ^ "OECD Broadband Portal", Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 13 April 2011
  13. ^ OECD (2017). "Internet Users by age".
  14. ^ The Global Information Technology Report 2010–2011, Soumitra Dutta and Irene Mia (eds.), INSEAD and the World Economic Forum, 2011, 435 pp.
  15. ^ "Internet Diffusion: Iceland", Cathy Newman, Kogod School of Business, American University, Washington, D.C.
  16. ^ a b Farice: The background of the FARICE-1 cable
  17. ^ "Seltjarnarnes" page on the Idega web site
  18. ^ "New legislation to provide exemplary protection for freedom of information", Reporters Without Borders, 21 June 2010
  19. ^ "ONI Regional Overview: Nordic Countries", OpenNet Initiative, March 2010
  20. ^ "Vill banna happdrætti á netinu" (in Icelandic), English translation: "Wants to ban gambling online", RÚV: Icelandic National Radio, 18 October 2012
  21. ^ "Iceland seeks internet pornography ban", Associated Press, The Guardian, 25 February 2013
  22. ^ "Iceland's porn ban 'conflicts with the idea of a free society', say critics", Jemima Kiss, The Guardian, 28 February 2013
  23. ^ "Iceland campaigns to restrict internet porn", Alexandra Topping, The Guardian (Reykjavik), 26 May 2013
  24. ^ "Lokað fyrir aðgang að netsíðu". Reykjavík, Iceland: Ritstjórn Morgunblaðsins. 10 June 2009.(in Icelandic) English translation: "Blocking access to web site"
  25. ^ "Síminn lokar á síðu". Reykjavík, Iceland: Ritstjórn Morgunblaðsins. 10 June 2009. (in Icelandic) English translation: "Getting close to a page"
  26. ^ "whois lookup for".
  27. ^ "Vodafone - Looking Glass Results for". Archived from the original on 2011-07-22. Retrieved 2011-04-28.
  28. ^ "Síminn - Looking Glass Results for".
  29. ^ "Netníðingar leggja börn í einelti]". Reykjavík, Iceland: Ritstjórn DV. 25 March 2009. (in Icelandic) English translation: "Netníðingar put children in bullying"
  30. ^ "Brugðist skjótt við barnaklámi]". Reykjavík, Iceland: Ritstjórn DV. 25 March 2009. (in Icelandic) English translation: "Respond quickly to child pornography"
  31. ^ "Lögreglan lokar barnaklámsíðu". Reykjavík, Iceland: Ritstjórn DV. 13 February 2008. (in Icelandic) English translation: "Police block child pornography site"
  32. ^ "Vodafone lokar á ringulreið". Reykjavík, Iceland: Ritstjórn DV. 10 June 2009. (in Icelandic) English translation: "Vodafone closes in Confusion"
  33. ^ a b "Ekki á stefnuskránni að hefja ritskoðun á netinu". Reykjavík, Iceland: Ritstjórn Morgunblaðsins. 12 June 2009. (in Icelandic) English translation: "Not planning to start online censorship"
  34. ^ "IP info for".