Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Finland Rules!

My favorite foreign nation has always had a leading role in technological advancement. Finland has quietly progressed on the technology front for years with very little fanfare. I moved to Finland 10 years ago. Before arriving in the country, I had no idea that the Finns were in the forefront of the revolution. I didn't even realize that Nokia is a Finnish company - it certainly sounds Japanese. I see that as one of Finland's main appeals. It is like Japan without the bright lights and self-cleaning toilets. And the latest news out of Finland adds another layer of excitement.

Finland has passed a law making broadband Internet access a legal right of all citizens. By July 2010, all citizens will have a guaranteed right to a 1Mb broadband connection. Naturally a country with only 5 million people will have an easier time implementing such a policy. In the US with our population of 300 million, a guaranteed right to Internet access is pretty unlikely.

Critics may argue that Internet access is no more a right than a car or a nice pair of shoes. I agree. It is not an inalienable right which should be added to various constitutions; however, when the access becomes easier to grant, when many parts of the country already have the infrastructure in place and when most of the population is savvy enough to take advantage of the service, then I don't see the harm.

When I lived in Finland, close to 90% of people had cell phones. Again, this was 10 years ago. That number may seem common now, but 10 years ago in the US, cell phones were still an expensive novelty. Finland seems to silently test ideas and set trends. Perhaps in 10 years, guaranteed broadband laws will not be breaking news.


  1. Margaret RainwaterOctober 15, 2009 at 4:24 AM

    Wow...very cool. It would be great to have in the U.S., but definitely more difficult considering our population size. I agree with you that internet access is not exactly a "right," but I do think it is pretty important. Countries should at least be working with libraries to ensure there is enough public access to the internet. Especially, for job seekers. So many jobs nowadays only do online job posting and accept online applications. If people don't have access to the internet it will further widen the gap between the haves and have nots. - Margaret Rainwater

  2. Interesting. I agree that its not a "right," but it is amazing what a nation can do when it chooses to use its economic resources for the benefit of its citizens instead of military spending, chasing terrorist and supporting corrupt regimes.