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

Broadband Stimulus, NTIA, Universal Service October 31st, 2009

, Deputy Editor, BroadbandBreakfast.com

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.

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