While here in the U.S. we're still trying to define it...
Here in the States we only just decided, nearly a decade after the industry took off, that it might be smart to have some kind of national broadband plan. We have also decided, after a decade of using bad science to inform any telecom policy we did make
, that using real science instead of lobbyist spreadsheets might be a good way to proceed. We've also concluded that instead of guessing who has broadband, actually mapping availability might be a good idea. Of course in terms of how to improve broadband, we're still hashing out the details.
So far the public discourse on this front has involved bickering over the definition of broadband
, while political partisans debate whether national infrastructure improvement is "socialism," or whether "socialism" is bad (knowing what socialism means is entirely optional). The U.S. isn't scheduled to have even a rudimentary broadband plan until February of next year, some 126 days from now, so it's scary to think of the intellectual ground we'll cover.
Meanwhile, Finland's Ministry of Transport and Communications today declared broadband a national legal right. According to Finnish news outlets
, as of next July every person in Finland will have the right to a one-megabit broadband connection. According to the Finnish government, 1 Mbps is just the entry point:
The government had already decided to make a 100 Mb broadband connection a legal right by the end of 2015. On Wednesday, the Ministry announced the new goal as an intermediary step. Some variation will be allowed, if connectivity can be arranged through mobile phone networks.
Back in 2008 the Finnish government said that the they would pay a third of the cost to wire the entire country with fiber by 2015. Finland is ranked eighth in the world in broadband penetration according to the latest OECD data
, the nation's small geographical footprint giving them an edge in bringing next-gen speeds to many residents.
For a sense of scale, Finland only has 5.3 million residents to our 300+ million. The estimated $287 million the project will cost is dwarfed by both AT&T's ($7 billion) and Verizon's ($24 billion) next-gen upgrade plans. Of course "we have big fields and stuff" only goes so far as an excuse, and in 126 days the FCC has to inform Congress how they hope to improve broadband penetration and competition here in the States.