Finland Makes 1Mbps Internet Connection A Legal Right - So What?

Finnish FlagFinland 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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Joy-Mari Cloete, October 16, 2009

Is this English version the same as the Finnish one?

http://www.lvm.fi/web/en/pressreleases/view/920100

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Antti Vilpponen October 16, 2009

Yes, that's the one.

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Joy-Mari Cloete, October 16, 2009

So why not link to it?

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Antti Vilpponen October 16, 2009

It wasn't online yesterday. It was put up a little over 2 hours ago and the blog post was put online yesterday. We'll probably update the post though.

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Joy-Mari Cloete, October 16, 2009

Oh? I had no idea. Sorry for my trollish behaviour.

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Sus, October 19, 2009

The easiest way is to build your own internet connection like we did here in Finland. If we wait what The Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communication will do in Finland then we will wait........for a long time.

Better to have an open net like http://www.netixopen.fi/fi/home

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DJVassallo October 19, 2009

During the weekend I have been reading many comments regarding this, this issue really created a huge buzz (most of it misunderstood, though) around the world... one of the best comments so far:

"...Finland isn't the first country to establish Internet access as a legal right (it was Switzerland in 2006) they just have done the best marketing campaign to say it..."

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holster October 22, 2009

From Wikipedia:

"EDGE can carry a bandwidth up to 236.8 kbit/s (with end-to-end latency of less than 150 ms) for 4 timeslots (theoretical maximum is 473.6 kbit/s for 8 timeslots) in packet mode. -- Evolved EDGE is a bolt-on extension to the GSM mobile telephony standard, which extends the previous EDGE upgrade to achieve potential speeds of up to 1 Mbit/s. As of 2009, there are no commercial networks or mobile phones which support Evolved EDGE standard."

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Antti Vilpponen October 22, 2009

Jaakko, that's an interesting point. I read it from the Finnish version of the press release that while they aim for 1Mbps connections, the operators must be able to guarantee a 75% speed during a 24h time period. Seems that according to your findings, this isn't possible with mobile internet connections.

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Tuomas Toivonen October 25, 2009

Looking at the history of telecoms this is hardly revolutionary. Universal service funds have been around for long in traditional wired voice and telcos have been mandated to contribute to such funds. The funds then have been used for cross subsidies to providing services to areas that it wouldn't otherwise be economical to serve. In many ways these broadband initiatives are just a rehash tried and true practices to achieve universal service.

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India's Rank in The World of Broadband, March 11, 2010

[...] Originally Posted by Vignesh Iyers I have heard that in Finland 1Mbps connection is a legal right! Here even for half of that we have to pay through our noses. ya, i too have heard this........ Finland Makes 1Mbps Internet Connection A Legal Right – So What? [...]