Finland decrees Net access legal right

Country becomes world's first to pass law making broadband access, at speeds of at least 1Mbps, a legal right for all its citizens by July 2010.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Finland has now joined only a handful of nations to make broadband access a legal right for all its citizens.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications passed a law requiring telecommunication companies in the country to provide Internet connection speeds of at least 1 megabit per second (Mbps) to some 5.2 million Finnish by July 2010.

According to local news reports, the Finn government had last month pledged to mandate online access speeds of 100Mbps for all citizens by the end of 2015. The latest law is an intermediary measure toward that target, the Ministry said.

The new legislation allows for some variation, for instance, on the delivery platform where access can be provided via mobile phone networks.

Some 96 percent of Finnish are already connected but the country's communications ministry said the new law was necessary to extend access in rural areas.

Stats from the International Telecommunication Union put Finland's 2008 Internet subscriber base at around 82.6 percent, or 26.8 per 100 inhabitants.

According to news reports. Finland now joins countries such as France to make Web access a human right but is the first to include access speed in its mandate.

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