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Article Finland: Legal Right to Broadband for All Citizens

(July 6, 2010) On July 1, 2010, all Finnish citizens will have a legal right to access a 1 Mbps (megabit per second) broadband connection, reportedly making Finland the first country to accord such a right. The government has also pledged to make the minimum speed of connection 100 MBPS by 2015. (Finland Makes Broadband a 'Legal Right,' BBC NEWS (July 1, 2010), As a result of the new right, “broadband access will be included in basic communications services like telephone or postal services.” (Press Release, Ministry of Transport and Communications, 1 Mbit Internet Access a Universal Service in Finland from the Beginning of July (June 29, 2010),

The legal change was effected by an amendment of the Communications Market Act in July 2009; a new paragraph 3 was added to article 60c to provide for the inclusion of a functional Internet connection as part of universal service. “The Ministry of Transport and Communications has defined the minimum rate of downstream traffic of a functional Internet access to be 1 Mbit/s, and the Finnish Communications Regulatory Authority, FICORA, has defined 26 telecom operators across Finland as universal service operators.” (Press Release, supra.)

The Communications Market Act provides for assignment of a universal service operator (art. 59) if there is no other way to ensure reasonably priced, competitive, high-quality service. A list of universal service operators obligated to supply broadband connections in various geographical locations areas is found on a dedicated FICORA webpage. (Id.; Search for a Universal Service Provider,
(last visited July 1, 2010); Communications Market Act (393/2003, amendments up to 119/2008 included) [in English], FINLEX, [also has links to amendments, in Finnish, including those after the119/2008 amendment] (last visited July 1, 2010).)

Minister of Communications Suvi Lindén, explaining the rationale for the new right, stated in an interview with the BBC, “[w]e considered the role of the internet in Finns everyday life. Internet services are no longer just for entertainment.” She added that “Finland has worked hard to develop an information society and a couple of years ago we realised not everyone had access.” (BBC NEWS, supra.) According to the BBC, “[i]t is believed up to 96% of the population are already online and that only about 4,000 homes still need connecting to comply with the law.” (Id.)

As for the problem of illegal file-sharing, Lindén stated that the government will have operators send letters to illegal file-sharers but not cut off access. This is in contrast with other countries, such as the United Kingdom and France, which have indicated that they may take a harsher approach and terminate or restrict the Internet access of persons who persist in downloading music or films for free. (Id.)

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