The 57,000 inhabitants of the Arctic island of Greenland will soon have access to the fastest Internet connections available in Europe, German engineering conglomerate Siemens said on Friday.
Siemens said it would supply broadband access of up to 24 megabits per second to Greenland's settlements by the end of the year -- fast enough for transmission of TV signals to supplement the island's one national and few local channels.
Under the deal with Greenland's state telecoms operator Tele Greenland, Siemens will also connect mobile phone users via local, Internet-based technology, eliminating the need for expensive and clumsy satellite links.
Normal terrestrial cable links are largely impossible in Greenland since two-thirds of its more than 800,000 square miles are covered by permafrost.
Siemens said telecoms were particularly important in such isolated regions, for example allowing mobile calls when the user is traveling across the ice or enabling remote medical diagnoses over high-speed Internet connections.
Around half of Greenland's citizens have Internet connections, Siemens said -- a proportion comparable to that of Europe's industrialized nations.
The government has now ordered that all settlements with a population of at least 70 must also have access to a mobile phone signal, Siemens said.
The vast majority of people in Greenland, the world's biggest island, live around the coastline in settlements that are not linked by roads.