Results from the European Commission's Digital Economy and Society Index (Desi), which summarises bloc countries' digital performance and competitiveness, were released on Wednesday.
At the top of the index were Denmark and Sweden, with Finland coming in third place. Last year Finland ranked second on the list. This year it was a virtual tie between Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands in the rankings.
"In addition to its leadership position in digital skills, which Finland has already held for several years, it also became the top scorer in digital public services. Moreover, it improved its score on the integration of digital technologies, where it is closing in on the frontrunner," the Desi report states.
"Overall, Finland remains a world leader in digitisation and one of the best EU countries in this domain," the organisation said.
Internet availability, digital skills
The index rankings were based on results of several categories, including fixed broadband coverage and take-up (ISP subscriptions), coverage of 4G networks and mobile broadband takeup, the average costs of broadband service and others factors.
In terms of human capital, Desi said that Finland's digital skills were the country's strongest competitive advantage when compared to other member states.
"The share of ICT specialists in its workforce increased further, with an additional 4,500 jobs. Overall, Finland managed to increase its score in this dimension faster than the EU average, reversing the catch-up process that had happened during the two previous years," Desi said.
Rural broadband still falls short
According to Desi, fixed broadband service is available to some 97 percent of Finnish households, "despite the specific geographical characteristics of the country."
"While Finland has good fixed broadband and 4G coverage overall, coverage in rural areas could be further improved. Market players have not invested enough in the sparsely populated rural areas of the country," it stated.
The group said it remains to be seen whether amendments to Finland's laws on extending Finland's national broadband plan, which went into force in mid-2017, will generate positive results.
Internet service usage
The Desi rankings also take into consideration the use of internet services. This year the group said such services are used "significantly" more than EU averages, but "not outstandingly so." The organisation said that Finland's use of internet shopping and social media helped their rankings in this category.
"While online consumption of news, music, video and games as well as online banking have all been virtually universal for a couple of years, online shopping and video calls saw growth in line with overall EU growth. In the use of social networks, where Finland was lagging behind, it has improved its position, now standing above the EU average," the report says.
Web use statistics
The survey also examined various countries' usage of internet news, music, videos and games, video calling, social networks, internet banking and shopping on the web.
Desi said that Finnish businesses were among the most advanced in the EU, as well, noting its integration of digital tech and cloud computing.
"In particular the use of cloud computing is very widespread, with every second Finnish company now making use of it; here, Finland scores three times the average of those countries for which data is available," the report states. (PDF of report)
The organisation said Finland's planned social and healthcare reforms would increase the use of digital services provided by the government, noting in particular its online patient record system which allows residents to access medical records and prescription services.