Digital Corridors

What’s Driving the Digital Economy in the Nordic Countries?

Learn why Nordic metros like Stockholm and Helsinki offer much more than just a good climate for data centers

Regina Dahlstroem
Henrik Nieminen
What’s Driving the Digital Economy in the Nordic Countries?

When we mention data centers in the Nordic countries, many people tend to focus on the climate and the landscape. They think data center operators primarily invest in the region because of the colder temperatures that enable energy-efficient cooling and the wide availability of land that’s well suited for renewable energy projects.

While these factors certainly help, it would be a mistake to forget about everything else the region has to offer. The Nordic countries are poised to become a new digital hotbed within Europe because of their unique combination of robust digital infrastructure and a deeply ingrained culture of innovation.

Key Nordic metros like Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen form what’s known as a digital corridor: an interconnected region where ecosystem partners come together to exchange insights and services, drive co-innovation opportunities, and ultimately become more than the sum of their parts.

What’s so great about digital infrastructure in the Nordic countries?

From the earliest days of the internet, the Nordic countries have made investing in digital infrastructure a priority. Because of this foresight, businesses and consumers can benefit from excellent digital connectivity in the region today. According to the European Union’s Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), Sweden ranks second in the EU in terms of fixed high-speed broadband connectivity, with more than 85% of households having access to internet speeds of at least 100 Mbps.[1] At 69%, Denmark also has significantly higher coverage than the European average.

While Finland has relatively low fixed broadband coverage compared to its peer Nordic countries, it makes up for this with solid mobile coverage: DESI statistics show that 5G networks reach 95% of Finnish households.[2] The country is also among the global leaders in mobile data consumption: Finns use 41 gigabytes of mobile data per person per month, more than four times the average across OECD member countries.[3]

The region is also a hive of subsea cable activity. For instance, the C-Lion1 cable system directly links Finland with Germany. The cable lands in Equinix IBX® data centers in both Helsinki and Frankfurt, thus providing a high-capacity, low-latency link between the Nordic countries and the core FLAP metros of Europe: Frankfurt, London, Amsterdam and Paris.

Cinia, the same Finnish company that built C-Lion1, has also announced plans for the world’s first trans-Arctic subsea cable system. The Far North Fiber project is on track to link the Nordic countries with Japan by 2027. The new cable will follow a direct route through the Arctic Circle, bypassing North America. Not only will this provide the shortest path between Europe and East Asia, but it will also support greater infrastructure resiliency. It will provide a much-needed alternative to the already-crowded cable corridor in the Mediterranean and Red Sea region and help companies avoid potential conflict hotspots.

Source: Far North Fiber

Far North Fiber will also link the Nordic countries to Ireland. Like Stockholm and Helsinki, Dublin has emerged as a growing digital hub; this direct connectivity will support greater ecosystem collaboration and redefine what businesses on both ends of the cable can accomplish.

How are Nordic businesses capitalizing on digital infrastructure in the region?

Thanks to the strong digital infrastructure—not to mention a regulatory landscape that’s more business-friendly than in other parts of Europe—digital businesses in the Nordic countries are thriving.

Some analysts call the Nordic countries the “unicorn factory of Europe,” because the region has produced more high-value startups per capita than anywhere outside of Silicon Valley.[4] Among these are several companies that have made a global impact by transforming the consumer experience in their respective sectors: Spotify in audio content streaming, Skype in telecommunications and Klarna in e-commerce.

The success of these businesses and others like them is not a coincidence. They’ve all benefited from the conditions mentioned above—the cooler climate, the availability of green power, the high levels of mobile and broadband connectivity, and the presence of subsea cables. However, they’ve also been supported by an ecosystem of leading service providers.

Homegrown companies Ericsson and Nokia have provided a strong foundation for digital ecosystems in the Nordic countries, as have locally based network operators like Telenor and Telia. Despite being relatively small, Sweden and Finland traditionally never had to worry about importing digital services or equipment from larger countries.

The presence of Nokia and Ericsson has directly benefited digital businesses in the Nordic countries. For instance, Finland has become a global powerhouse in the gaming industry—mobile gaming in particular—and this is largely thanks to Nokia. In the early 2000s, Nokia became the leading mobile device manufacturer in the world, which in turn increased demand for mobile developers in Finland.[5] Some of these developers went on to start their own studios, and a thriving gaming ecosystem began to form. Today, the country is home to leading mobile game studios like Rovio and Supercell.

As we look toward the future, Nordic companies are well positioned to continue capitalizing on consumer-driven trends that go on to become big business. With an active startup ecosystem, major global service providers and robust digital infrastructure, we could be seeing the next Spotify emerge from the Nordic countries any day now.

What makes the Nordic countries attractive to global businesses?

While homegrown service providers have enabled digital development in the Nordic countries, the region isn’t completely cut off from outside infrastructure investment.

Global cloud hyperscalers have recognized the opportunity that exists in the Nordic countries, and have invested accordingly. AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and Oracle have all announced new cloud regions in the Nordic countries within the last several years. Customers in the region have rewarded their efforts: According to DESI statistics, Sweden, Finland and Denmark are the top three countries in the EU in terms of enterprise cloud adoption.[6]

Of course, no discussion about digital infrastructure in the Nordic countries would be complete without mentioning Equinix. We provide vendor-neutral colocation facilities in Stockholm and Helsinki. In both cities, our data centers serve as a digital business hub where enterprises can connect with service providers and each other to increase infrastructure agility and unlock advanced use cases. We’re proud to support both multinationals looking to establish a digital presence in the region quickly and local companies looking to access our global colocation footprint and dense partner ecosystem.

If you’re looking to join the innovative digital business culture here in the Nordic countries, deploying Equinix Metal®, our dedicated bare metal solution, is a quick and straightforward way to do it. With Equinix Metal, you can set up single-tenant bare metal servers on demand in both Stockholm and Helsinki, all while tapping into our impressive ecosystem of global enterprises and service providers. Learn how to get started with deploying Equinix Metal.

You may also be interested in reading:

The Global Interconnection Index (GXI) 2024, a market study published by Equinix, measures the growth of the global digital economy by looking at the interconnection bandwidth that ecosystem partners consume as they exchange data-driven insights and explore collaboration opportunities. The GXI provides a deeper look at how digital ecosystems are forming in the Nordic countries and throughout the world. Read the GXI to learn more.


[1] DESI 2023, At Least 100 Mbps fixed broadband take-up, European Commission.

[2] DESI 2023, 5G coverage, European Commission.

[3] Latvians and Finnish use the most mobile data, Connect World.

[4] A Guide to Nordic Innovation: Europe’s Unicorn Factory, Innovation Lab Asia.

[5] How Finland Became a Major Player in the Global Gaming Industry, The Enterprise World.

[6] DESI 2023, Cloud, European Commission.

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Regina Dahlstroem Managing Director, Sweden
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Henrik Nieminen Global Principal Solution Architect
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