Finns have legal right to broadband – should India follow suit?

By Reuters Staff
July 1, 2010

In a first of its kind legislation by any country, Finland has made broadband internet access a legal right for all its citizens.

Visitors to a New Delhi trade fair pass a billboard showing a large computer screen at a fair stall in New Delhi November 16. REUTERS/FilesAs per the new law that came into effect from July 1, Finnish telecom companies will have to provide its citizens broadband lines with a minimum speed of 1Mbps.

Media reports say up to 96 percent of Finland’s population is already online and only about 4,000 homes will need to be connected to comply with the new rule.

Finland may have set a precedent for other governments to follow. But does this mean India could also get such a legislation in the near future?

In India, the world’s second-biggest and the fastest-growing mobile market with more than 600 million users, the broadband penetration (connections per 100 people) in the country is extremely low at 0.74.

Only 71 million of India’s billion-plus population claimed to have used the internet in 2009, according to an I-Cube report.

India has only recently come up with a legislation promising the right to education to all its children.

Living in the information age, the role government-sanctioned access to the wired world can play in developing India is beyond imagination.

But then, such access is also subject to factors other than the will of a government. They would depend on rural electrification and basic access to computers. How practical is the ‘right to internet access’ for India?


In most of Indian cities, we don’t even have 24*7 electricity. What’s the use of internet when you don’t have the basic necessities? The government needs to focus on improving basic living standards here first

Posted by SAS_10 | Report as abusive

There are many more issues that need to be addressed first. I don’t think this is the right time to do this. Govt should concentrate more on ways than can help reduce poverty first.

Posted by AdityaK | Report as abusive

There is nothing harm in giving the rights, but the question is- do we have the infra to do justice to this right? Where even electricity, let alone a PC, is not available, what use would a broadband do? A sizeable chunk is under poverty and education is nowhere in sight. The affordability for such people would always be under scanner.
Finland is a small country with a meagre population. When the power of internet is unleashed in a country like India, the use of cyber crime and cyber terrorism might also increase.
The right no doubt would be a welcome step however the government needs to look at the pros and the cons before taking such a step. Copying other countries blatantly should never be the way.

Posted by Sid_thinks | Report as abusive

I think that giving mobile internet connectivity and encouraging telecom companies to set up more broad band services is a good idea. While doing this, India also needs to provide basic necessities to its citizens.

The choice can’t be an “OR” (internet or necessities), it has to be both.

The simple reason for this is both broadband/internet and food are necessities.


Posted by RK_France | Report as abusive

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