At its meeting today, the National Defence Committee heard about the business continuity of communication networks and cross-use of infrastructure as well as the concept of national communication, and concluded that from the viewpoint of comprehensive national defence, the organisation of communication needed more extensive coordination between authorities.
The Chairman of the Committee Andres Metsoja highlighted the main problem of the communication network: the government does not have a full overview of the communication networks. “We have a detailed overview of the power grid, but the communication network is largely built up by private businesses and exists in their data bases,” Metsoja said. “The valid Act makes cross-use of networks mandatory, but as networks are non-digitalised property of private companies, the government does not have complete information about the existence of networks, which makes cross-use difficult.”
Metsoja thinks that the state authorities should digitalise and map the communication networks because otherwise the government would be unable to set national defence duties to communication networks needed for national defence purposes. Under the Bill on Amendments to the Electronic Communications Act, which the Riigikogu is currently proceeding, communication businesses will have to provide information about the technology they use, which will allow the government to gain an overview of the communications used in the country.
Metsoja explained that in addition to the private sector, several state run agencies manage communication networks. For him, one possible goal would be the integration of the communication network with the power grid. We would also need to involve the rail network, Elektrilevi, and Levira, and define the roles.
Member of the Committee Johannes Kert said that the crucial question for any kind of crisis management preparedness is the organisation and functioning of communication, and in the case of Estonia, also the cross-use of communication between authorities. “Cross-use of communications is a question of comprehensive national defence but today there is still a lot of room for development,” Kert admitted. He expressed his hope that the Committee would regularly return to the topic until this important national defence issue is solved.
The goal of national communication is to ensure robust and secure communication for services and target groups of national importance. The Committee heard clarifications from representatives of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Ministry of Defence, Information System Authority, Defence Forces, and State Infocommunication Foundation.
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