Spain Codifies ‘The Right to Broadband’

[This article originally found here:,2817,2356014,00.asp]

MADRID, Nov 17 (Reuters) – Spanish citizens will have a legal right from 2011 to be able to buy broadband internet of at least one megabyte per second at a regulated price wherever they live, the country’s industry minister said on Tuesday.

The telecoms operator holding the so-called “universal service” contract would have to guarantee it could offer “reasonably” priced broadband throughout Spain, said Miguel Sebastian in a statement sent to media.

Former state monopoly Telefonica has always held the universal contract aimed at protecting consumers in poorly populated areas from being cut off in cases where operators would otherwise consider providing the service unprofitable.

The service also subsidises telecoms to disabled users.

Until now, the “universal service” has only guaranteed internet via telephone line, fixed telephone, directory service and telephone booths.

Earlier this month, Spain’s telecoms regulator, the CMT, proposed that Telefonica, Vodafone and Orange foot the cost of providing the universal service for 2006, which it judged had cost 75.34 million euros, with Telefonica paying 71 percent of the costs.

Adding internet to the universal service would increase the future cost of the universal service.

The yearly calculations of the cost of the service take about two years to complete.

Consumer group FACUA said it welcomed that broadband internet would finally be a right but said the speed was insufficient and the measure should be introduced before 2011.

“FACUA calls on the minister to speed up the measure, increase the speed and to set a reasonable price,” the organisation said in a statement.

(Reporting by Sarah Morris)

Finland makes 1Mb broadband access a legal right

[This article originally found here:]

Finland’s Ministry of Transport and Communications has made 1-megabit broadband Web access a legal right, YLE, the country’s national broadcasting company, reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, every person in Finland (a little over 5 million people, according to a 2009 estimate) will have the right of access to a 1Mb broadband connection starting in July. And they may ultimately gain the right to a 100Mb broadband connection.

Just more than a year ago, Finland said it would make a 100Mb broadband connection a legal right by the end of 2015. Wednesday’s announcement is considered an intermediate step.

France, one of a few countries that has made Internet access a human right, did so earlier this year. France’s Constitutional Council ruled that Internet access is a basic human right. That said, it stopped short of making “broadband access” a legal right. Finland says that it’s the first country to make broadband access a legal right.

But Finland’s definition of “access” to broadband is a little fuzzy. According to the Helsinki Times when it reported the 100Mb target last year, the Finnish government said that no household “would be farther than 2 kilometers from a connection capable of delivering broadband Internet with a capacity of at least 100 megabits of data a second.” It did say, though, that “about 2,000 (households) in far-flung corners of the country” wouldn’t be included. Ostensibly, Finland plans to keep that same distribution when its 1Mb broadband access is implemented.

Finland has long been a tech-industry leader that has done a fine job investing in technology, more than many of its European counterparts. It’s also home to Nokia, among other tech firms.