Finland – the first country to actually have a universal broadband Internet service obligation in place

News Articles

Internet for all, declares Finland | The Age Technology (Australia)

Finland the first country in the world to make broadband access a legal right | Engadget

Is Broadband a Basic Right? Finland Says Yes! | GigaOM

My comments

Previously, I had written a post on this blog about Finland proposing to establish universal access to broadband Internet with a minimum speed of 1Mbps as a basic right. This was in response to the usual blogosphere comments about a legal right to download BitTorrents of movies and similar content in that country when this news was initially broken, and I was stating it as a preparation ground for IP-based video services, VoIP telephony and the ability to use the Internet to do business competitively.

Now this goal has become real with the Finnish government with them establishing certain Internet providers as “universal service providers” who have to provide the service for 30-40€ / month. Another issue that hasn’t been raised in the press coverage is how Finland will finance this universal-service obligation.

This is whether through:

  • spending by the government out of the country’s annual budget
  • a levy on telecommunications or Internet services (current practice in the US for the universal telephone service)
  • annexing the TV-licence or similar audiovisual-service fee used to fund the public broadcast service (UK’s proposed solution) or
  • simply letting the universal-service providers charge more for discretionary services (current practice in Australia with Telstra).

One of the articles was also looking at idea of the US adopting a similar “bill-of-rights” method for protecting the standard of Internet service in that country. This is even though there is a lawsuit filed by Comcast against the FCC that is currently in progress concerning Net neutrality and the right if the state to have their hand in the provision of Internet service.

What I see of this is that Finland has led the pack by being the first country to write in their law books that broadband Internet be provided as a universal service in a similar manner to mains electricity or the telephone service. It will be interesting to see who will be the next country to take tbis step seriously.

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