Finland defines “universal service” to include 1 Mbit internet connection

In October 2009, Finland was the first country to declare broadband Internet access a legal right.

Pursuant to a decree issued by the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications, the definition of “universal service” was expanded to include access to a 1 Mbit Internet connection.  As of July 1, 2010, universal service providers must be able to provide every permanent residence and business office with access to a reasonably priced and high-quality Internet connection with a download rate of at least 1 Mbps.[1]

The decree allows for some variation in download speeds to accommodate services provided on mobile networks.  The average download speed must be at least 75 percent of the required rate of 1 Mbps over a 24 hour period.  In a four hour period, the average speed must be at least 59 percent of the required 1 Mbps download speed.[2]

According to Laura Vilkkonen, the legislative counsellor for the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the one-megabit mandate is only an intermediary step.  By 2015, the goal is to have speeds that are 100 times faster (100 Mbps) for all in Finland.[3]  Vilkonen said, “"We think [broadband Internet access] is something you cannot live without in modern society. Like banking services or water or electricity, you need Internet connection."[4]  Vilkonen also commented that the decree is aimed at expanding and improving Internet access to rural areas since geographic challenges have limited access.[5]

Endnotes

[1] Ministry of Transport and Communications (Finland), Press Release: “Access to a minimum of 1Mbit Internet connection available to everyone in Finland by July 2010” (16 November, 2009), online: http://www.lvm.fi/web/en/pressreleases/view/920100.  See also Ministry of Transport and Communications (Finland), Press Release: “Minimum of 1 Mbit Internet connection available to everyone” (16 November, 2009), online: http://www.lvm.fi/web/en/news/view/920307.

[2] Ministry of Transport and Communications (Finland), Press Release: “Access to a minimum of 1Mbit Internet connection available to everyone in Finland by July 2010” (16 November, 2009), online: http://www.lvm.fi/web/en/pressreleases/view/920100.  See also Ministry of Transport and Communications (Finland), Press Release: “Minimum of 1 Mbit Internet connection available to everyone” (16 November, 2009), online: http://www.lvm.fi/web/en/news/view/920307.

[3] Saeed Ahmed, “Fast Internet access becomes a legal right in Finland” CNN (15 October, 2009), online: http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/10/15/finland.internet.rights/index.html?eref=rss_topstories.

[4] Saeed Ahmed, “Fast Internet access becomes a legal right in Finland” CNN (15 October, 2009), online: http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/10/15/finland.internet.rights/index.html?eref=rss_topstories.

[5] Saeed Ahmed, “Fast Internet access becomes a legal right in Finland” CNN (15 October, 2009), online: http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/10/15/finland.internet.rights/index.html?eref=rss_topstories.

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