Finland made headlines yesterday with a news item that many media sites and bloggers echoed on; the government approved a law to make the 1Mbps internet connection a legal right for everyone in the country. I read many of the stories around the web and believe that there is a large misconception on what this actually means. Almost everyone is referring to the fact that Finland has taken a great step forward as it will be wiring the entire country for everyone. To disappoint you, this won't be the case. There is a twist in the text that states the true meaning of the law: it's a legal right to have a 1 Mpbs connection, but it isn't stated that it will be free.
The Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communication has an announcement on their website that explains the law well (in Finnish still). The law is put into place to keep the rural areas lively and connected to the digital possibilities of the society. Who's going to guarantee the 1Mbps connection to the rural areas then? It will be the telcos. The law is put into place to guarantee the possibility to use the internet anywhere in Finland. What this means in practice is that if the telcos don't have (or it is not economically viable) the cables in place for a broadband connection, they have to offer the possibility go online with a mobile device.
So in essence the law, that will come into practice by 1st of July 2010, means that "EDGE" -speed connectivity online has to be offered in all parts of Finland. There won't be any point for the telcos to wire the country as it does not make any economic sense. Furthermore, it is worth noting that the law states a right to the 1Mbps connectivity, it won't mean that we'll see 100% broadband penetration in Finland anytime soon as people aren't obligated to be connected.
To conclude, I believe the law is still phenomenal. Why? Because 2015 isn't that far away and by then the government states that the telephone companies must be able to provide a 100Mbps connection to anywhere in Finland. This will guarantee that we'll be able to build a whole new service platform online regarding many of the methods that are currently carried out in other means (ie. offline). This kind of a law will also allow the government to seriously invest into services that will enable better dialogue online between the citizens as everyone has the legally backed possibility to participate. Furthermore, by 2015 we should be able to see some interesting media distribution innovations at the latest as digital distribution of content is not a problem anymore.
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