Finland's right to broadband: kind of like access to electricity, water

Finland's right to broadband: kind of like access to electricity, water

Summary: When it comes to broadband as a legal right, maybe Finland has it right.

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The government in Finland has made it official: access to a broadband connection of at least 1 megabit per second is now a legal right for the residents of that country. And by 2015, the government hopes to impose minimum connection of 100 mbps to its residents.

Granted, Finland is a small, sparsely populated country and about 96 percent of the country is already connected, according to a BBC report, so the whole legal right thing doesn't bring about any immediate change.

Still, broadband as a legal right is an interesting concept. Increasingly, as the Internet becomes the pipeline for all types of information, its presence in any home in any country is more like that of a utility, comparable to electricity, water or a telephone. And like those instances, the utility is simply available. The service isn't provided. Consumers still have to pay to turn the service on and a monthly bill for usage.

The only thing that's required of the power companies or water companies is to make sure that a home has access to their services. It's not required that they be provided for free. And, the utility companies don't have to provide the products that utilize the services. After all, the electric company isn't giving away table lamps to plug into the electrical outlets.

When you think of it like that, the burden here becomes that of the Internet service provider, which is now required to deliver at least 1 mbps of broadband, and soon 100 mbps, to every resident. Certainly, those providers would pass along their investment costs to their customers. But at least they would be in compliance with everyone's legal right.

And now, when other technologies emerge - whether smart grid electricity or Internet-powered television - the people of Finland will be ready for it, ahead of the curve.

Hmmm. Ahead of the curve on broadband technology, huh? Wouldn't it be nice for the U.S. to be in that tech camp again? Maybe - just maybe - Finland is on to something with this legal right to broadband thing.

Topics: Telcos, Broadband, Networking

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  • RE: Finland's right to broadband: kind of like access to electricity, water

    Broadband is a luxury just like cable TV an dother things. It's not a right. We need to allow the free market system to compete and offer services. The competition is good and it drives further innovation. If we consider broadband a right, where does the insanity stop? How about new cars as a right?
    macdonalds
    • RE: Finland's right to broadband: kind of like access to electricity, water

      @macdonalds

      <i>Broadband is a luxury just like cable TV an dother things. It's not a right.</i>

      Tell that to people in the US who live in more remote areas that have no option of broadband at all. They can't truly participate in the modern Internet because they don't fit into the business model of some company. Never mind that the company only exists because the laws of the land, enacted by the people through their elected representatives, ALLOW the company to exist in the first place. That's the real insanity.

      It's time to make the rules work for the people.
      RationalGuy
      • RE: Finland's right to broadband: kind of like access to electricity, water

        @RationalGuy
        Umm, it already does. There are these things called satellites and I've heard tell that there are companies such as Wild Blue and Hughes net that use them to offer, yes, broadband internet acess. Yes, it's more expensive and if you need to upload stuff it's a little slow, but then there is always a price to pay for a persons decisions.
        fwelsh
      • RE: Finland's right to broadband: kind of like access to electricity, water

        @RationalGuy Yes, broadband is a luxury, but perhaps there is a compromise: A rural access subsidy such as for electricity and telephone. What worked for those "luxuries" that are now deemed necessities should also work for broadband.
        Starman35
      • RE: Finland's right to broadband: kind of like access to electricity, water

        @RationalGuy, @Starman35:
        I guess since Walmart's a necessity that we should make it guaranteed to everyone, too. Free Walmart for everyone! Whee, no more need for hunger, lack of TV sets, or crappy printers! Yay!

        I can't imagine internet becoming the necessity that electricity is. Furthermore, we don't even guarantee electricity. This leads me to believe that Starman's dead on. As it grows it will leak to rural areas and they will have access. They live in the middle of nowhere, and it takes a long time to lay cable to there.
        evilkillerwhale@...
      • RE: Finland's right to broadband: kind of like access to electricity, water

        @RationalGuy The people "allow" a company to operate?? I think not; where in the constitution is that? The truth is that broadband will be in rural areas eventually. Companies start extending their networks to the most populace areas for financial, common sense reasons. I remember when parts of my family that live in very rural KY did not have cable, then eventually they did. The same is true for broadband, there are still some areas that do not; but they will. To make it a right does two negative things, first it adds a right to our constitution that is not there and lastly it makes the "people" pay for "your choice" of where "you" want to live.
        MichaelWells
      • RE: Finland's right to broadband: kind of like access to electricity, water

        @RationalGuy

        So they can't participate. I can't participate in the ballet, either.
        The company only exists because of the creative efforts of entrepreneurs, not because of the fiat of legislators.
        I have electric lights in my house because of Edison, not because of Obama.
        hiraghm@...
      • RE: Finland's right to broadband: kind of like access to electricity, water

        @fwelsh
        Have you ever used satellite internet? I have. It is spotty, unreliable, slow (yes, SLOW), and very expensive.
        As for the "there is always a price to pay for a person's decisions," you are missing the point. Some people have no choice. It is either satellite, or dial-up... period. And if you're referring to the 'choice' of where they live, many people don't have much choice there either. Moving is expensive!
        I think Finland is making a move in the right direction. The internet these days IS a utility. You can't really even find employment these days without a computer and internet connection. Even the lowest paying, crappy jobs are moving to online applications to reduce costs.

        Quite frankly, the US is behind on many fronts. Especially in technology. Our internet connections here suck compared to most of the world, our cell service and devices are years behind, transportation is crap, energy provision is retarded. And the prices for most services are a good deal cheaper in Europe as well.
        Liath.WW
      • T'was a time when electricity was deemed a luxury too

        @RationalGuy

        Now try living without it!
        In a world where many businesses are taking more of their wares online; where many basic service providers (water, electricity, gas etc) here in Australia are going "paperless"; where teaching facilities are moving more of their study resources to a paperless format, we are hitting a point where not having access to broadband is a severe disadvantage.

        In the U.S. it would seem that such an uneven plying field is seen as the acceptable norm. Thank goodness that an increasing number of countries disagree with that way of thinking. That being said, whilst your coutry continues to bicker over which Telco supports this or that phone; whilst your country squabbles over this service or that and outages here and there; other countries will have seen the need for national services that actually work and have done something about it.

        Enjoy sitting in the IT dark-age... afraid we won't be joining you!
        kaninelupus
      • RE: Finland's right to broadband: kind of like access to electricity, water

        @RationalGuy True some of us and it's way more than people think are stuck with 28 k or less . @fwelsh I wish it was true
        satellites need a clear view of the sky to work so if you live in a place where you have large trees that are not on your land forget it . Even the local company that has microwave service won't work because of the damm trees .
        Mashman
      • RE: Finland's right to broadband: kind of like access to electricity, water

        @MichaelWells

        <i>The people "allow" a company to operate?? I think not; where in the constitution is that?</i>

        Business entities (LLCs, C corporations, S corporations, etc>) are legal constructs. Corporate personhood? A legal fiction.

        These are things that come into being because the law allows them to exist. The law is created by the people through their elected representatives. Therefore, the people allow companies to exist.

        The laws governing the formation of business entities are state-by-state. Additionally, interstate commerce is regulated by federal law. That's in Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution.
        RationalGuy
      • RE: Finland's right to broadband: kind of like access to electricity, water

        @RationalGuy I agree with everything that you just said, but where I respectfully disagree is in the area of the constitution. The laws you mention certainly do exist, but are they constitutional? The commerce clause was never intended to "regulate, tax, or impede business". The framers put the clause in there to insure that business would be able to run unimpeded and to assist in that goal. A brief reading of the what the founders wrote at the time and historical precedent will back that up. At that time it meant roads, and later railways and air travel to "aid" in commerce. The fact that these types of corporations that you mention exist, while true, is only being enacted by these businesses to avoid certain regulation, taxation, or other government infringement. I am sure that you will argue that the courts have found the commerce clause to be legal in what the government does, and many people will agree with you. I do not. The courts have for years either granted rights or taken away rights from it's citizens that are clearly unconstitutional. FDR, while not the first, helped to get the ball rolling by staying in office for 12 years to load the court with his justices. This was because the prior courts refused to allow the "New Deal" on constitutional grounds; apparently they knew the difference between "general" and "specific". FDR waited to get enough of his judges to redefine "general" to mean "specific" and thus opened the floodgate to almost all of the crazy spending that we have now. The courts have become the place for people to go to either grant rights that are not there (gay marriage, abortion, although Roe v Wade actually gives a non-existent right to privacy) or to take away right that are there (Guns, religion in the public square, right to property..see imminent domain). My main objection is not for economic reasons, although I do not wish to subsidize someone else's internet availability; that is just my personal opinion. My main objection is the continuation of the destruction of our constitution. If I wanted to live in a democracy I would move some where else. I enjoy the freedom that my country affords all of us, and while most of the bad law that has pervaded this country for the last 80 or so years has always been well intentioned; it has taken from one to give to another (judicially granted theft) and has hurt "all" of "our" rights by further moving away from the constitution.
        MichaelWells
    • RE: Finland's right to broadband: kind of like access to electricity, water

      @macdonalds AMEN the entitlement crap has got to stop. We are heading quickly to the few paying for the many!
      ItsTheBottomLine
      • RE: Finland's right to broadband: kind of like access to electricity, water

        @ItsTheBottomLine - If you like to eat, you need to have viable, profitable, sustainable rural areas growing food. Cities are lousy places to farm because there is no room!
        In the real world, all utilities are subsidized, because universal (or near universal) access is an economic necessity. Access is guarenteed by making it a right.
        Is broadband a utility?
        Farmers (for example) are among the heaviest users of technology - GPS is becoming standard in tractors and combines because it makes good business sense, not because farmer's get lost easily. Fast, reliable internet access for everything from grain futures to the weather in Australia is no longer a luxury - current accurate information allows businesses to survive, and flourish.
        Like it or not, subsidies for nearly every business have been an economic reality, in every society, since the beginning of time.
        lppsguay@...
      • RE: Finland's right to broadband: kind of like access to electricity, water

        @ItsTheBottomLine
        I'm amazed at some people. How long has broadband been in existence? How long should it take to get to rurals areas. It really is possible to be pompus and selfish at the same time.
        eargasm
      • RE: Finland's right to broadband: kind of like access to electricity, water

        @windozefreak - Normally I agree with your posts, however that sounds more like the liberal boohooing the Linux zealots put out "free for everyone" blah, blah blah (yes I use Linux as well). See the problem w/ rural is a specific need and maybe a valuable one, but that would be a minority of the people jumping on the "free lunch" bandwagon. We are heading fast towards a disaster of the few paying for the many. The current garbage in Washington has the attitude , "It's not fair they you have something and he doesn't". You can do anything you want to in this country , work for it and work hard. Just like the founders of this country did and the immigrants (LEGAL ONES!) do every single day. They work for a house, a car. That attitude lead to our current fiscal mess! I'm tired of paying for people that sit on the rumps and want hands out because it's no fair He has something and I don't Broadband is not a "right" , a house is not a "right" , a car is not a "right". These are things you earn and not given to and paid for by hard working people like me and I'm assuming you. So if that attitude is pompus then by God I will wear it like a badge of honor. Because I worked hard for what I have an to watch person who doesn't want to do anything and have the Gov't bail them out or hand it pure and simple BS. And based on the responses in this blog and the polls etc. I would say the Majority of the US citzens think the same way. Nov. should be wonderful - God willing. Oops I'm sorry I just insulted Oboo-boo.
        ItsTheBottomLine
      • ACCESS IS A RIGHT THOUGH!!

        @ItsTheBottomLine

        You are missing a point with all your chest puffing! We are NOT talking about giving away broadband connections for free. There is NO suggestion of making sure every citizen has broadband, without having to pay for it. It is about ensuring that EVERY citizen has ACCESS to broadband, should they choose/be able to pay for it!

        Finland gets that; Australia is seriously working toward that... God, most of Europe gets it. Why is that the U.S is SO embroiled in the political Yah Hooing, that any kind of organised equalling of the field is viewed as some kind of move toward Communism? Seriously!?!
        kaninelupus
      • RE: Finland's right to broadband: kind of like access to electricity, water

        @ItsTheBottomLine You may be a little confused. First, nobody is claiming entitlement, only the opportunity to purchase a service, just like you do. Secondly, if you do a little research, you will find that the top 1% of money earners in the US pay about 90% of the taxes. I'm guessing that you are not in that 1% so somebody is already carrying the load for you. Third, IMHO it is pretty stupid for people who look at the situation we live in today as a nation (in the US) and think "gee, I wouldn't change a thing". It is only a selfish attitude that leads to that. You think everything is ok as-is as long as you are on the good end of it. If you weren't, then you would be screaming foul and want everyone else to change for you.

        How exactly did you "work hard" for internet access? Wasn't the offer of service just brought to your door? All you do is pay for the service, you did no work to bring it to your house. You really need to lose the "me and they" attitude and start considering the "we" side of things.
        *Gman*
      • Re; AMEN the entitlement crap has got to stop.

        @ItsTheBottomLine
        So, you did not notice that it was the Finnish parliament making this valid for Finland ?
        It was [b] not [/b] set as a human right, but as a [b] legal right IN Finland [/b].
        But then again Finland tends to go past the US in technology advancements . US started all this (internet/arpanet), but now it seems that strong forces are willing to sacrifice the lead that the US had for the perceived benefit of their own interests.

        This is NOT about human rights; it is about the [lb] legal rights [/b] that is likely to promote the technical advantages that Finland already has a fair amount of (hint: Nokia is Finnish).
        hkommedal
    • RE: Finland's right to broadband: kind of like access to electricity, water

      It's exactly this type of attitude that will have the rest of the world eventually eating our economic lunch. If the "great experiment" collapses, it will be by the hand of greed.
      DB_z