Finland has become the first country in the world to guarantee its citizens access to broadband. TechCrunch has more:
Starting July 2010, every person in Finland will have the right to a one-megabit broadband connection as an intermediate step, says the Ministry of Transport and Communications. By the end of 2015, the legal right will be extended to an impressive 100 Mb broadband connection for everyone.
According to Wikipedia, approximately 79 percent of the Finnish population use the Internet. Finland had around 1.52 million broadband Internet connections by the end of June 2007 or around 287 per 1,000 inhabitants.
This doesn’t mean Finland is offering free Internet access to everyone. Rather, it is ensuring that its network is accessible to all citizens. From the Finnish government site:
The distance from the subscriber to the nearest optical fibre or cable network should be at most two kilometres.
The aim of the Government’s policy outline is to ensure that the telecommunications network meets society’s needs, now and in the future. According to (one) study, it will not be possible to offer telecommunications networks on a regionally equal basis through commercial means.
The report proposes that the state, regions and municipalities share in the costs of improving the telecommunications network in those areas where the target level for 2015 cannot be reached by commercial means. The purpose is for the Regional Councils to organise competitive bidding among the telecommunications operators.
“As the telecommunications network needed cannot be provided on market terms in all respects, its construction must be supported by public funds,” Lindén confirms.
The user will still procure and pay the costs of their subscriber connection in the future, and also decide on the speed and technology they want for the connection. To promote equality among citizens, a domestic help credit will be extended to citizens in 2009.