- 66% of the population aged 16-74 years uses the internet (Statistics Estonia, 2008).
- 58% of households have internet capabilities (Statistics Estonia, 2008).
- All Estonian schools are connected to the internet.
- A network of Public Internet Access Points covers most of Estonia's cities and towns.
- In addition to Public Internet Access Points, it is possible for laptop users to utilise rapid wi-fi internet connections in more than 1100 public places; in many places that service is free of charge. The area of wi-fi internet is constantly growing and encompasses all of Estonia.
- Income tax declarations can be made electronically via internet. In 2009, over 91% of income tax declarations were presented through the e-Tax Board.
- Expenditures made by the government can be followed on the internet in real time.
- Cabinet meetings have been changed to paperless sessions using a web-based document system.
- There are more mobile phone contracts than residents - 147 per 100 people (Statistics Estonia, 2008).
- Estonia is completely covered by digital mobile phone networks.
According to the research undertaken by the World Economic Forum on the use of information technology in 134 countries (The Global Information Technology Report 2008-2009 - The Network Readiness of Nations, www.weforum.org), Estonia ranks 18th in the Networked Readiness Index and is the highest ranking Central and Eastern European country.
The national information technology framework document is called "Estonian Information Society Strategy 2013", and it sets out the general framework, objectives, and areas of activity for the next several years. A separate government office exists to co-ordinate the national IT budget with legislation and international co-operation; the office also carries out its own development projects.
In 2001, the central database X-Road (X-Tee) was launched, which today provides access to 67 different databases and 687 services. The X-Road's services are used by 392 institutions and companies. The increasing number of services provided by X-Road has made it a comfortable and secure online environment for individual citizens as well, where they can view their information registered in different national databases.
From 2005-2008 the programme VillageWay 3 (KülaTee 3) was implemented, which aims to bring internet connections to sparsely populated areas of the country. Thanks to the programme, the availability of internet connections in Estonia is about 98%.
The programme will hopefully increase the number of internet users, and the "digital gap" between city and rural inhabitants will be reduced.
Within the years 2002-2004, computer and internet courses took place free of charge for adult residents of Estonia. In the framework of the unique training project "Vaata maailma" (See the World), which was fully funded by the private sector, 102,697 people received training, which accounts for 10 % of Estonia's adult population. Surveys following the training have shown that more than 70 % of the participants have used the internet after passing the training.
In 2006, the four biggest sponsors of the "Vaata maailma" project collaborated with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication to create the co-operation agreement "Computer Protection 2009", which aims to make Estonia the nation with the most secure information society in the world by the year 2009.
The primary goal of the project is to ensure that the e-services and IT solutions that play a vital role in the economy remain secure and trustworthy in the future. The project sponsors want to increase citizens' trust for e-services and make them feel at ease in their communication with the state over the internet, and also increase awareness of potential hazards on the internet and how to protect one's computer from them. An important facet of the project is introducing the possibility of using one's ID card electronically.
Estonia shares its experiences as an e-state with other countries as well. The e-Governance Academy has trained over 500 participants from 36 countries, including Afghanistan, Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cuba, Georgia, Hungary, India, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Namibia, Pakistan, Romania, Senegal, Serbia, Sri Lanka, and Tajikistan.
E-services with ID cards and mobile phones
As of January 2009, more than 1 million people in Estonia (almost 90 % of inhabitants) have ID cards. The Estonian ID card serves as an identification document and, within the European Union, also as a travel document. In addition to its physical use, the card is also used as proof of ID when utilising online services. Using the ID card to identify oneself, a person can make everyday banking transactions, submit an income tax declaration, buy a bus ticket, check his or her personal data in the X-Road portal, give a digital signature, and participate in elections.
In October 2005, the population of Estonia had for the first time the opportunity to participate in the local government elections via internet without leaving home. When giving one's electronic vote, the voter had to identify himself/herself by means of his/her ID card. In the parliamentary elections in the spring of 2007 it was also possible to vote via the internet, and about 5% of voters took advantage of this opportunity.
Paying by mobile phone
Since November 2002, the two largest Estonian banks have offered the opportunity to make payments via mobile phone. As of August 2007, it is possible to pay by mobile in over 2,000 places. Among them are motels, beauty salons, and shops, as well as taxi and catering businesses. Sales places facilitating mobile payment are recognisable by their blue and yellow sticker that reads, "Maksa mobiiliga" (Pay by mobile phone).
It is also possible to use one's mobile phone to make a bank transfer to an individual and to buy a bus ticket.
By mobile phones one can pay also for parking cars (m-parking), phoning a certain number or sending SMS. To inform the parking controller about payment being effected by phone, the corresponding m-parking sticker is stuck on the windshield or the right side window of the vehicle.
E-services in education
As of 2003, it is possible for all Estonian schools to use the web-based school-home communication environment e-School (eKool). The purpose of e-School is to engage parents more actively in the study process, make information on subjects more available to children as well as to parents, and to facilitate the work of teachers and of the school management. For example, via e-School one can follow the marks given to students, their absence from classes, the content of lessons, and homework and assessments given to students by teachers at the end of the study period. There are already 220 schools across Estonia using eSchool, which is 35% of schools in Estonia.
SAIS - Admissions information system
It is possible for young Estonians to submit admission applications to higher education institutions electronically without having to physically go to the school. In 2007, over 350,000 applications were submitted through SAIS. About 80 % of Estonian higher education students study in institutions that use the SAIS system.
Exam results by SMS
Students finishing secondary school in Estonia can find out the scores of their final exams via SMS. This way the student who completed the exam receives his or her scores in a text message immediately after the exam has been graded. In 2008, nearly 60% of students taking secondary school final exams ordered SMS scores.