"Right to broadband" in Finland

, posted: 5-Jul-2010 15:59

There's some interesting discussion in Dot En Zed around the Finnish initiative that appears to guarantee broadband with at least 1Mbit/s downstream speed to everyone. Colin Jackson's blog for instance makes some good points.
Unlike France that talked about broadband as a "human right", the Finns have made it a "legal right" which is kind of clear as mud really.
My understanding from reading documents in Finnish, and please correct me if I'm wrong, is that it applies to the Universal Service Obligation that telco operators in Finland are subject to
This is much like New Zealand with its TSO or Telecommunications Obligation that says everyone should be able to get phone service and that it should be capable of 14.4kbit/s dial-up in built-up areas, and 9.6k elsewhere.
Note that this isn't a total guarantee, meaning that you will be able to get phone service etc no matter where you are, but the vast majority of the country's population will be able to.
In other words, a Finnish telco subject to the USO there must by this year provide access to customers in permanent residential dwellings, business and public service offices to fixed or wireless connections with a downstream speed of at least 1Mbps.
The Finnish USO apparently has some provisions as to the quality and pricing of the service as well, but I haven't been able to find those yet.
In five years time, the ante is being upped to 100Mbps optical fibre or cable access. The lawmakers want to make sure that just about everybody - 99 per cent of the population – will have access points no more than two kilometres away, to ensure the 100Mbps speeds.
I'm unsure how much this will cost, but adding up the subsidies for the cities and rural areas, it seems be around 500 million Euro. There are tax deductions available for customers, up to 3,000 Euro for single families and double that for others, and the Finns expect up to 80 per cent of the costs will be swallowed by digging.
The whole point to the Finnish exercise is that over there, the broadband question is no longer a social issue, nor is broadband a luxury item. The consensus is that it's needed in the same way as phone service is needed in NZ for day-to-day existence, to work, to access health services, to participate in the democratic process and so forth.

Other related posts:
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The problem with naming and shaming

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