Finland becomes the first country to make broadband a legal right

Finland, the place that I’ve been calling home since July 2007, has just become the first country in the world to make broadband a legal right. Here is what YLE (think of them like the Finnish BBC) had to say on the subject:

Starting next July, every person in Finland will have the right to a one-megabit broadband connection, says the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Finland is the world’s first country to create laws guaranteeing broadband access.

The government had already decided to make a 100 Mb broadband connection a legal right by the end of 2015. On Wednesday, the Ministry announced the new goal as an intermediary step.

Some variation will be allowed, if connectivity can be arranged through mobile phone networks.

Everyone has a right to broadband. That’s just … awesome. While America is still fucking around trying to actually define the term broadband, and while France is rolling out a law that kicks you off the internet after downloading just a few mp3 files, Finland of all places makes broadband something you never have to worry about for the rest of your life.

[Via: @ylenews]

Update: This story was picked up by TechCrunch and while scrolling through the comments in disgust at how much people hate socialism, a useful nugget of information was left by David Bauer. He said: “Switzerland has introduced broadband access to everyone back in 2007″, so I did some research and it turns out that in September of 2006, not 2007, the Swiss Office of Communications declared that universal access to broadband will become a legal right starting January 1, 2008. Broadband, as defined by the Swiss, is 600 kbps down and 100 kbps up. Sorry Finland, but you’re not the first.

  • Mike

    How much does it cost, who’s providing it and what is the penalty if someone doesn’t have access to it?

    • Stefan Constantinescu

      ISPs that currently exist will provide it, no idea how much it will cost, and no idea what the penalty is. Finland is a socialist country. School, all the way up to graduate studies, even becoming a doctor, is not only free, but the government gives you an allowance while you’re studying. Health care is also free, no exceptions. Yes taxes are high over here, but you get what you pay for.

      Update: Health care is not always free, see Carol’s comment below.

      • Carol

        Health care is not always free. E.g. private health care – I recently had to pay for physiotherapy. Also occupational health care is not free but usually paid for by the employer. Only some basic dental services are free. Glasses are not free and actually cost a lot. Please get your facts right before making general sweeping statements like “Health care is also free, no exceptions.”

      • heehaw

        Ok. You had every single statement wrong there. Finland actually fought against commies and socialists and won, which is something that you and your country had no courage to do. So go in your hole and stay there, do not talk about patriotism because you do not even know what it means. There are doers and losers, and you, my loser, are not a doer.

  • mjt

    Though it sounds like a good idea, the expenses will be extreme, especially in the rural parts of the country, and the continuing connections there will be paid for by the city-dwellers. Not even in taxes but in regular fees.

    So this is actually socialism at its worst :/

    Yeah, you get what you pay for, which is pretty much nothing, because taxes go into a pool and you can just hope for the best…

    • Stefan Constantinescu

      Actually since Finland was one of the first countries to start rolling out HSPA on the 900 MHz frequency, it should be very easy to give broadband to rural people. Besides, city dwellers probably have family living up north, isolated in a far away cottage. Having Grandma from Oulu do a high quality Skype video call with her grandson in Helsinki is totally worth it. Not to mention the new businesses that can now start up.

      • mjt

        Sure, Oulu is a real city with real enterprises.

        What sucks is the ridiculously small places people never hear of that exist only on government subsidies (paid in taxes by city-dwellers) who would have moved to the nearest city if it wasn’t for subsidies.

        There are a lot of people against this kind of a layout.

        Imagine what the speed of the internets here could be if people didn’t live in 1000-person villages.

    • Matti

      Taxes will only cover the extra cost of infrastructure to remote areas, not the actual monthly payments. Scope of the law is only to guarantee access, not free cost, to broadband.

      Goverment also plans to pay most the infrastructure cost from 4G radio-band sales to mobile network operators.

      Ps. Just noticed that this post made it to frontpage of Techcrunch.

  • Michael

    Wait, does this mean that it’s required to be available by law or that it’s required to be available and free as well (like antenna TV and Radio in the US)?

    • Blend

      Not free, just a requirement that the operators will need to cover the whole country. This ain’t no socialism. It is center party (right wing if you ask me) agenda to promote country folks’ “garden town” lifestyle.

  • DK

    Hi, sorry but I’m a little confused here. Is the broadband provided free of charge? Been reading lots of mixed comments.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Stefan Constantinescu

      Pricing was not mentioned.

  • Glen Grant

    Whatever anyone thinks about the socialism elements of such a plan in Finland, the reality is now that some of those small backward villages will be able to conduct internet business and serious communication for the first time. This may only be selling reindeer wool jumpers, Blueberry skin mobile phone covers or on-line advice about how to keep your skis warm at night, but it is a start.

    I hope that other governments follow suit. Here in Latvia where we do not yet have universal sewerage or running water services, we could reach the bizarre situation of having broadband before sanitation!

  • Brett Nelms

    What is wrong with people working hard for things they want? Why do people want to be controlled by the Govt? Its because their lazy slugs and feel their entitled to everything. Ya this disease is flowing through our Govt in America as well. The Govt should provide one entitlement and that is to protect the country not be your baby sitter.. God when will people freaking grow up?

  • Brett Nelms

    For anybody asking nothing is for free which means you may have to go out and work for what you want….its usually called a job. I suggest stop sucking off other people. That was supposed to stop after you left home.

  • Chris

    Its great to see so much skepticism put into government “action.”

    Most people make conclusions off the success of different European institutional programs including healthcare without realizing that most European countries have population sizes much smaller than that of the US – which allows these socialistic programs the ability to function.

    Government is backwards of free enterprise in the sense that scalability provides normal businesses an ability to cut costs the bigger the business becomes whereas bureaucracy mandates incredible levels of control that actually burden scalability.

    Developing programs which would promote the private sector to make broad connections available to rural customers would make the most logical sense.

  • Dave Field

    Brett and Chris,

    Sorry to see you’ve had so much of the conservative Kool-aid. Next you’ll be telling me that the free market works when the folks pack up their agrarian (which means “attached to the land”) lifestyles and move into the city for broadband.

    Let the Finns do things their way (which works a hell of a lot better that ours IMHO). They voted for their mode of government and are among the happiest nations in the world as a result. Come back to me when the US is happiest and we’ll talk. Until then, concentrate on parroting Rush’s BS to sub-par IQ Americans who don’t understand that there is a *definite* role for government in providing the services that big business can’t (roads, education, defense) or won’t (healthcare, self-regulation, broadband access to all).

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