Other countries recognizing the importance of broadband connections for their citizens

Submitter Name: 
Brian Beaton
Submitters Email: 
brianbeaton@knet.ca

From CNN 

(CNN) -- Finland has become the first country in the world to declare broadband Internet access a legal right.

By Saeed Ahmed, CNN

The move by Finland is aimed at bringing Web access to rural areas, where access has been limited.

Starting in July, telecommunication companies in the northern European nation will be required to provide all 5.2 million citizens with Internet connection that runs at speeds of at least 1 megabit per second.

The one-megabit mandate, however, is simply an intermediary step, said Laura Vilkkonen, the legislative counselor for the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

The country is aiming for speeds that are 100 times faster -- 100 megabit per second -- for all by 2015.

"We think it's something you cannot live without in modern society. Like banking services or water or electricity, you need Internet connection," Vilkkonen said.

Finland is one of the most wired in the world; about 95 percent of the population have some sort of Internet access, she said. But the law is designed to bring the Web to rural areas, where geographic challenges have limited access until now.

"Universal service is every citizen's subjective right," Vilkkonen said.

Should fast Internet access be everyone's legal right?

It is a view shared by the United Nations, which is making a big push to deem Internet access a human right.

In June, France's highest court declared such access a human right. But Finland goes a step further by legally mandating speed.

On the other hand, the United States is the only industrialized nation without a national policy to promote high-speed broadband, according to a study released in August by the Communications Workers of America, the country's largest media union.

Forty-six percent of rural households do not subscribe to broadband, and usage varies based on income, the study found.

In February, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission is expected to submit a national plan to Congress. The FCC says that expanding service will require subsidies and investment of as much as $350 billion -- much higher than the $7.2 billion President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package has set aside for the task.

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From Circleid Postings

Finland First Country to Make Broadband a Legal Right

Oct 14, 2009 - By CircleID Reporter

Finland's Ministry of Transport and Communications announced today that from July 2010, every person in the country will have a legal right to at least 1Mb of broadband connection. Finland is the first country to guarantee broadband access and has already initiated plans to increase the 1MB minimum to 100Mb by 2015.

Communications Minister Suvi Linden says the universal service and Internet connections at the specified minimum speed will help improve the quality and availability of connections in sparsely populated areas. This will in turn contribute to maintenance of rural vitality, increase business opportunities and e-commerce.

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From Business Week

Finland: Broadband Is a Legal Right

Posted by: Olga Kharif on October 14

Come July 2010, every Fin will have access to a 1 Megabit-per-second broadband connection. Finland just became the first country in the world to sign a law that provides every citizen of the country with a legal right to a broadband connection.

The Finnish government had already announced that every citizen should have access to a 100 Megabit-per-second broadband connection by the end of 2015. Now, it took an intermediary step toward that goal. On Oct. 14, the Ministry of Transport and Communications announced that every Fin should have a legal right to a 1 Megabit-per-second connection by next summer.

The move could pave the way for other countries to start looking at broadband as its citizens’ inalienable legal right, akin to freedom of speech and freedom of movement. That makes a lot of sense: Most of us can no longer perform our work duties, do homework or communicate with friends without having access to the Internet. Many Web-based communications and video services, such as Skype, require a broadband connection to work. People need broadband connections to live normal lives, as Finland is the first nation to acknowledge.

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The Australian Broadband Guarantee was announced in 2006 and ratified by Federal Paliament in March 2007.

A summary of the categories covering the Australian populace:

Category A - Under the Australian Broadband Guarantee, Category A internet service providers provide land-based commercial broadband service(s) such as ADSL or Wireless. If deemed Category A you are not eligible for a subsidised Australian Broadband Guarantee service as a commercial broadband service is already available that meets the metro-comparability standard outlined above.

Category B - Under the Australian Broadband Guarantee, Category B internet service providers provide subsidised land-based Australian Broadband Guarantee service(s) as part of this program. If deemed Category B you are eligible for a subsidised Australian Broadband Guarantee service.

Category C - Under the Australian Broadband Guarantee, Category C internet service providers provide subsidised upgrades to existing commercial broadband infrastructure or Australian Broadband Guarantee service(s) as part of this program. If deemed Category C you are eligible for an up-graded subsidised Australian Broadband Guarantee service.

Category D - Under the Australian Broadband Guarantee, Category D internet service providers provide subsidised satellite Australian Broadband Guarantee service(s) as part of this program. If deemed Category D you are eligible for a new or up-graded subsidised Australian Broadband Guarantee service.

http://www.dbcde.gov.au/broadband/australian_broadband_guarantee/austral...

http://www.minister.dcita.gov.au/coonan/media/media_releases/broadband_s...