Internet and e-commerce industry in Sweden



image Sweden, a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe, is the third largest country in the European Union in terms of area, populated by about 9.2 million people, with its capital in Stockholm. Sweden ranks first in the world in The Economist’s Democracy Index and seventh in the United Nations’ Human Development Index. Sweden has been a member of the European Union since 1995 and is a member of the OECD. The World Economic Forum 2009-2010 competitiveness index ranks Sweden the 4th most competitive economy in the world. Sweden claims to be an advanced industrial nation, where research plays a key role for economic development as well as for society at large. So,  Swedish high-quality scientific and technological development is prominent throughout the world. And we’re to consider what stage of progress ICT and e-commerce sectors currently are.

89753825.jpgSweden’s broadband market pretends to be one of the most developed in the EU, with Europe’s highest broadband penetration levels. Country’s Internet market is being developed, migrating rapidly from dial-up to various modes of broadband access. High level of broadband penetration, that currently reaches almost 90%, reasoned by the high levels of DSL, cable modem, satellite, and fixed wireless adoption, as well as availability of Metro Ethernet, fibre, WLAN and powerline communication (BPL) access technologies. Despite nation’s penetration is considerably high, Sweden takes less than 2% share of European Internet market. Besides, Sweden’s heavy investments in development of the nation’s DSL and fibre upgrades leverage this sector progress.
The country enjoys Europe’s highest rate of employees with ICT specialist skills, and 53% of its employees use the internet at work, well above the EU norm of 36%, according to Economist Intelligence Unit.

The main ISPs offering dial-up service are represented by (isp.thelist.com):

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• Abc-Klubben
• Bahnhof Internet
• Dialer.net
• Netaway
• Websurf Solutions

3443810357_f497064681_m.jpgBahnhof Internet, Dialer.net, Netaway, Websurf Solutions are also offering citizens cable Internet access. Actually, household broadband Internet in the country is mainly available through cable (in speeds of 128 kbit/s to 100 Mbit/s), as well ADSL (256 kbit/s to 60 Mbit/s), but in many locations it can also be available through copper Ethernet LAN networked via fibre MANs connecting buildings. The largest provider of cable internet in this Nordic country is Com Hem. Concerning the prices for these services, they depend on which city a subscriber lives and the provider of the physical cable – many cities own their own fiber network and let different ISPs offer their services through these nets.

dialer.jpgAs for the wired market, currently lead by Dialer.net, it has also seen large investments, such as those from the Carlyle Group, a leading investment company. The wireless broadband market have also seen large foreign direct investments; for example Hutchison Whampoa’s investments in the Scandinavian 3G mobile operator.

Sweden’s country code top-level domain (ccTLD) is .se, operated by .SE (The Internet Infrastructure Foundation), but domains must be registered through one of the approved registrars. .SE is a foundation and is managed on the basis of its charter of foundation and its statutes. .Se appeared to become the first TLD to offer DNSSEC (Domain Name System Security Extensions) services. Two years registration contract is relatively expensive, $244.

  By 2003 government rules over registrations under .se domain were highly restrictive. Only companies, associations and authorities registered nation-wide were allowed to register a domain, and it had to be very similar to the registered name. Individual products were not eligible for separate domain names registration, even if they were attempting to register trademarks. Individuals could register only one domain with the suffix .pp.se (pp is an abbreviation for "private person"), and companies and organizations registered in just a single county were eligible for domains with a <county letter>.se suffix, most of them were depending on the location. The examples of formerly allowed second-level domain names are listed below:

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org.se – Non-profit organizations
pp.se – Private persons
tm.se – Trademarks
parti.se – Political parties
press.se – Periodicals
a.se, b.se – Stockholm City
g.se – Kronoberg County
t.se – Örebro County
z.se – Jämtland County

88377021.jpgUnder the new rules, any entity or individual is enabled to register any number of domains, subject to few restrictions. A person may register whatever .se domain he wants, as long as it is free, not in .SE’s Blocked or Reserved list. Since 2003, .SE has started accepting registrations of internationalized domain names, containing the letters å, ä, ö, ü and é. In 2007, a total of 250 characters became available, supporting names in all of the legally recognized minority languages of Sweden: Finnish, Meänkieli (Tornedalsfinska), Sami, Romany and Yiddish.

Turning to online business sector, it’s important to say e-commerce activity along with high level of ICT skills is impressive. Swedish e-commerce business claims to be one of the most matured in Europe.

Surprisingly, but, being among the entrepreneurial leader, Sweden is strikingly behind in implementing e-business tools. Similarly to the UK, Sweden ranks 20 and 17 respectively in companies’ use of software for managing orders linked to internal and external IT systems, according to EIU.

Meantime Swedish e-commerce continues deploying rapidly. Goods sold online range from books and CDs to airline tickets, clothing, holiday trips, electronic items, computers, glasses and contact lenses. Online travel services is also one of the fastest-growing categories, with many travel agencies and airlines now charging fees for booking via an agent.

Credit card and other types of online payment systems continue to be developed and perfected. Moreover, payment can also be often accomplished electronically via Internet banking.

E-banking is currently well established in Sweden, although fees can be high even at niche banks. Other niche banks, such as ICA Banken, owned by ICA (a grocery-store chain), and Ikanobanken, owned by IKEA (a furniture retailer), compete by charging a low or no fee for Internet banking services.

91804907.jpgBanks are turning to electronic payments acceptance as it helps them diminish costs for administering the traditional bill payments. Along with other EU countries, Swedish banks are increasingly pushing consumers to apply to electronic payment services. Bank customers can pay directly from their accounts for goods offered online through bank portals.

The majority of companies also prefer such kind of payment services as it help them to reduce their invoicing costs. Besides, systems are well developed for receiving invoices electronically, with the same specifications as traditional bills sent by post.
Electronic factoring continues to grow, especially in the public sector, and there is now a standard electronic factoring form used by Sweden’s 290 municipalities. Several Swedish municipalities now accept supplier bids electronically only, to help cut costs and paperwork.

Being one of the most European ICT and e-commerce developed countries, Sweden continues deploying this sector. That reflected by one of the highest in Europe penetration levels, as well as all kinds of Internet connection services existence, offered by matured Sweden ISPs. Sweden can also boast about its e-commerce progress, with its developed marketplaces and e-banking sector sophistication.

ecommerce-journal.com




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