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Life, liberty, and cheap broadband?

Finland, yesterday, became the world’s first country to garuantee broadband access to all of its citizens as a legal right: The legislation, which came into effect Thursday, forces telecom operators to provide a reasonably priced broadband connection with a downstream rate of at least one megabit per second (mbs) to every permanent residence and office, ...

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Finland, yesterday, became the world’s first country to garuantee broadband access to all of its citizens as a legal right:

The legislation, which came into effect Thursday, forces telecom operators to provide a reasonably priced broadband connection with a downstream rate of at least one megabit per second (mbs) to every permanent residence and office, the Finnish government said in a statement.

Most of the coverage I’ve read of this describes Finland as “tech-savvy” or one of the world’s “most wired nations.” But broadband penetration data compiled by the OECD last December actually shows the homeland of Nokia is pretty average compared to other wealth countries:

 

At 26.7 percent penetration, Finland actually has pretty low penetration for Northern Europe — well behind its neighbors Norway and Sweden — and only 0.3 percent higher than the United States, a country with a much higher population, land area, and income inequality. Viewed in this context, Finland’s move to mandate broadband access by law is less a demonstration of technological superiority than a way to catch up. 

Finland, yesterday, became the world’s first country to garuantee broadband access to all of its citizens as a legal right:

The legislation, which came into effect Thursday, forces telecom operators to provide a reasonably priced broadband connection with a downstream rate of at least one megabit per second (mbs) to every permanent residence and office, the Finnish government said in a statement.

Most of the coverage I’ve read of this describes Finland as “tech-savvy” or one of the world’s “most wired nations.” But broadband penetration data compiled by the OECD last December actually shows the homeland of Nokia is pretty average compared to other wealth countries:

 

At 26.7 percent penetration, Finland actually has pretty low penetration for Northern Europe — well behind its neighbors Norway and Sweden — and only 0.3 percent higher than the United States, a country with a much higher population, land area, and income inequality. Viewed in this context, Finland’s move to mandate broadband access by law is less a demonstration of technological superiority than a way to catch up. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy  Twitter: @joshuakeating

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