What is the effect of Finland declaring broadband a basic right?


The news services are alive with reports that Finland has declared broadband of 1mb/s a basic right for all Finns.  Quite interestingly commercial service providers will be obliged to provide this service from 1 July to all households. No I can hear you all say “but that is a developed country, we have different priorities in a developing nation!“. And you would all be right. I agree completely with you. We have huge unemployment here in South Africa and the rest of Africa. Apparently, we (South Africa) have more people receiving grants than we have employed persons(also reported internationally today).

However, you have to wonder what the potential effect on our and other developing countries may be. Exactly what happens to the levels of innovation and of course comparative advantage when a whole society gains access to the internet at high speed for free? Will this affect our economy? In which way? How will this affect the so-called knowledge gap between industrialised and emerging economies?

Any ideas?

One Response to “What is the effect of Finland declaring broadband a basic right?”

  1. Frank Waeltring Says:

    Hi Shawn,
    2 thoughts about your Finland example came up to me:
    1) We were just sitting together with some colleagues who talked about the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project promoted by an US NGO to encourage knowledge creation especially for poor groups and children through internet access and the distributions of basic laptops. Another colleague told us about his experience with this initiative in Uruquay: Children came to school earlier and were sitting in front of the steps at the entrance where they had wireless access for free. They were typing their messages in their small notebooks, reading news or playing games. The whole initiative had led to some conflicts between students and teachers, because the former were able to check directly the knowledge of the teacher… Free access to internet and its advantages in a relatively poor environment.
    2) Now a European example. I am living in a German village where you can only find internet connection in your house (and you have wait for months to get it), nowhere in the nice and relaxing market places or leisure places at the forests or river side. Imagine we would have access to internet all over the place. I could imagine that the village would become an attractive location for academics that look for a nice working environment and at the same time a connection to the world. In Europe you can already find “coworking places” http://coworking.pbworks.com/, places where people can use a working space in a flexible way in different locations or “spaces”. For a village with free access to internet this could make the whole location more attractive and could lead to new visitors, new academics, etc.. They would sit close to the market place working in a relaxed environment, or they could even go the riverside and use a working space table there….

    In a nutshell: Providing internet access for free in all locations within a country will encourage a tremendous opportunity of individual and societal learning, the initiation of new development projects and the increase of competitive advantages. Nonetheless to use the potential it still needs local persons and experts to make use of these new opportunities.

    Like


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