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First County to Declare Broadband a Legal Right: Not Finland, but Switzerland

in NTIA/Recovery Act/Universal Service by

October 31, 2009 - Finland made headlines earlier this month in declaring that broadband had become a legal right. While this startled some people, the Finns were not the first people to declare this – the Swiss were. Further, in 2003, at the World Summit on the Information Society, a declaration of principles was drafted and signed by a number of nations around the world, including the United States.

While Finland is the first nation to declare broadband a right, many nations around the world have developed plans to have universal service within the next 5 years. Finland’s plan is to have 100 percent coverage by 2015 at 100 Megabits per second, but the parliament has yet to officially approve the recommendation.

The United Kingdom announced through their Digital Britain plan to have 100 percent coverage by 2012 with a minimum speed of 2 Mbps. Germany has also announced full coverage by the end of 2010: 75 percent of all households are to have speeds of 50 Mbps by 2014, and then 100 Mbps for 100 percent of households by 2018. France also announced a plan to get universal coverage by 2012.

All of those plans were established in the past three years. Switzerland, however, made their declaration in 2006. The nation In guaranteed minimum speed for all citizens of 100 Kilobits per second (Kbps), with a price limit of 69 Swiss Francs.

While the speed seems low,the plan did include a reexamination of the plan in 2010 for a speed increase.

Also, all of these broadband plans are distinct and are extensions of existing universal telephone service obligations.

With the creation of federal government’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and Broadband Infrastructure Program, many were wondering if the administration would follow the Europeans and declare a minimum standard . They have not. More embarrassingly, residential broadband service is not even a main portion of the universal service fund.

About was launched in January 2008, and uses “crowdsourcing” to collect the Broadband SPARC: Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition. The news on is produced by Broadband Census News LLC, a subsidiary of Broadband Census LLC that was created in July 2009.

A recent split of operations helps to clarify the mission of Broadband Census Data LLC offers commercial broadband verification services to cities, states, carriers and broadband users. Created in July 2009, Broadband Census Data LLC produced a joint application in the NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program with Virginia Tech’s eCorridors Program. In August 2009, released a beta map of Columbia, South Carolina, in partnership with Benedict-Allen Community Development Corporation.

Broadband Census News LLC offers daily and weekly reporting, as well as the Broadband Breakfast Club. The Broadband Breakfast Club has been inviting top experts and policy-makers to share breakfast and perspectives on broadband technology and internet policy since October 2008. Both Broadband Census News LLC and Broadband Census Data LLC are subsidiaries of Broadband Census LLC, and are organized in the Commonwealth of Virginia. About

Rahul Gaitonde has been writing for since the fall of 2009, and in May of 2010 he became Deputy Editor. He was a fellow at George Mason University’s Long Term Governance Project, a researcher at the International Center for Applied Studies in Information Technology and worked at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. He holds a Masters of Public Policy from George Mason University, where his research focused on the economic and social benefits of broadband expansion. He has written extensively about Universal Service Fund reform, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the Broadband Data Improvement Act

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