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Finnish Government Makes 1Mbps Broadband Legal Right

But it’s just a stepping stone to the eventual aim of mandating 100Mbps broadband by 2015 – compared to the UK’s 2Mbps goal by 2012

While the UK government merely included a 2Mbps connection for all its citizens as a goal in the recent Digital Britain report, authorities in Finland have gone further by making 1Mbps broadband a legal right for all its citizens.

According to local media reports, the Finnish government has set a deadline of next July to enforce the right to a 1mbps connection for all its 5 million citizens. The government has set a more ambitious target of mandating a 100Mbps connection by 2015 but the latest announcement is seen as stepping stone towards that aim.

Reports also state that there may be some room in variation around the 1mpbs connection target if mobile networks are used to provide broadband access.

For its part, the UK government committed to a plan to provide universal 2Mbps broadband earlier this year, in response to the Digital Britain report. The government also announced plans to use a 50p-a-month levy to pay for faster broadband, but has recently been criticised for concentrating on coverage rather than broadband quality, as research suggests that broadband quality is crucial for a country to take a leadership role in the digital economy.

Earlier this month, the author of the Digital Britain report Lord Carter, said the government’s plan to provide a universal 2Mbps broadband service may be slower than users would like, but it’s essential for social inclusion. “Universal 2Mbps broadband is the technological equivalent of the minimum wage,” said Lord Carter, in response to a question from eWEEK Europe. “You have to have a base level – but we also have to have an answer to the quality question.”

The government has said it will introduce the broadband tax to fund its broadband roll-out before the next election. Speaking at an event organised by the The BCS Chartered Institute for IT in September, Minister for Digital Britain Stephen Timms said that the 50p a month tax will be introduced as part of a Finance Bill before Christmas. “We want to make high speed networks nationally available. The next-generation fund will help that and we will legislate for it this side of a general election,” Timms said, according to BBC reports.

The European Commission has officially adopted guidelines on how member states should subsidise the roll-out of broadband networks. And while the Next Generation Fund is aimed at getting more fibre into the network, BT is using bonded broadband lines to get more speed out of existing copper.

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Image by Petritap, from Wikimedia