Finland Makes Broadband a Legal Right?

October 15th, 2009 by · 1 Comment

According to reports, Finland has made it a legal right for all citizens to be able to have a broadband connection - in this case a minimum of 1Mbps.  Not instantly, but by next summer - which is close enough to turn a few heads.  They had already planned to make a 100Mbps legal guarantee by 2015, but decided for an intermediate step.  Finland has just 5.3M people, and 1.52M households already have broadband connections.  Even if one assumes an average of 3 people per households that still leaves some work to do.  But the law just says you must be able to get one, not that you must buy it so perhaps they are already close to this goal.

The territory they must cover is reasonably homogeneous in terrain and population density compared to something like the USA, so such a guarantee is somewhat more reasonable than it would otherwise be.  But still, there have to be some questions I have.  Who exactly is on the hook for this?  If a Finn can't get a 1Mbps connection, who does he sue and what compensation is he due?  How much can the ISP charge for a particularly hard case?  And is that a nominal 1Mbps connection that usually does half that even on good days, or a real one all the time every day?

As you can tell, I'm somewhat doubtful about a government's ability to mandate something like this, it's sort of like declaring poverty illegal - lots of luck with that. But hey, the more broadband the better and it's the Finn's business not mine and so I just wish them luck.  Whether the legislation helps or not, it is clear that the broadband everywhere movement has been gaining momentum lately, eh?

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Categories: FTTH · Government Regulations · Internet Traffic

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  • Zed says:

    The 1 Mbps Universal Service Obligation states that the throughput of a broadband line has to provide 75% of the nominal speed on a 24 hour measurement basis with no less than 50% of nominal speed on a 4 hour measurement basis.

    There is a list of operators who have Significant Market Power in their territory and they are obligated to provide at least 1 Mbps broadband to all residences and businesses in their coverage area.

    Since it is an Universal Service Obilgation the regulator will deal with non-compliance. A customer is unlikely to get any compensation for non-performance, but will end up with a 1 Mbps connection in due time if non-compliance is reported.

    As far as I know, there are no end customer price limits, but all operators with Significant Market Power have to provide services on a cost basis, where costs are averaged out, so end user prices are likely to be the same in the whole territory.

    There’s nothing particulary hard about expanding the Universal Service Obligation to include broadband and it’s not like it hasn’t worked before for phones.

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