Friday, July 02, 2010

Finland: universal service obligation for 1mbps broadband


As has been widely reported,  the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority (FICORA) has this week set out an entitlement for 1Mbps broadband for consumers and businesses, at their permanent place of residence or business. From FICORA's press release:
"FICORA assigned 26 telecom operators as universal service providers in various parts of Finland. In their operating area, the operators have an obligation to provide a broadband subscription for consumers and business customers at their permanent place of residence or business. According to the amendment to the Communications Market Act entering into force at the beginning of July, the connection speed must be 1 Mbit/s. The requirements for the minimum speed of an internet connection have been specified in further detail in the Decree of the Ministry of Transport and Communications. According to the Communications Market Act, a universal service provider must be assigned if this is necessary in order to ensure the universal service provision in a certain area. Consumers must separately agree with the telecom operator assigned as a universal service provider on the obtaining of a broadband subscription pertaining to universal service."
Commentary from the BBC here; according to the article "96% of the population are already online and that only about 4,000 homes still need connecting to comply with the law." And an interesting take from the Guardian in its Technology Blog, comparing Finland's initiative with the calls to repeal the Digital Economy Act, the first law put up on a new government website where people can suggest laws that they want repealed:
"The contrast between Finland and the UK could not be more stark. Where Finland is treating broadband as being essential to its infrastructure, the DEA offers the potential for strictures where people could, in theory, be cut off if they are judged to have broken copyright law...Finland, of course, has good reason to want to make sure that all its citizens can get broadband. They're not solely about high-tech. It's also because Finland has some incredibly rural areas, as well as its cities. And it gets extremely cold in winter, which means that it's preferable to stay where you are than to travel long distances to work, if your work can be done via a computer...in October the communications minister, Suvi Linden, said that the mandate was necessary in order to improve the availability of internet in Finland's remote rural areas. In an announcement in September, Ms Linden committed to making 100Mb internet access - one hundred times faster than the connections mandated under the current law - available to all Finnish residents by 2015."
Every day the UK falls further and further behind it seems.

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