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Finnish 1meg universal service obligation comes in to force
Thursday 01 July 2010 01:44:14 by John Hunt

Finland has become the first country in the world to adopt broadband as a legal right for all its citizens. From today, a universal service obligation (USO) comes in to force which will see every Finn have the right to access the Internet through a 1Mbps broadband connection. 96% of the 5.2m strong country are believed to already be online.

"We considered the role of the internet in Finns everyday life. Internet services are no longer just for entertainment.

Finland has worked hard to develop an information society and a couple of years ago we realised not everyone had access."

Suvi Linden, Finnish Communication Minister

Whilst the UK currently has a universal service commitment (USC) planned to provide everyone in the country with 2Mbps broadband, this doesn't equate to the same legal right that is now in place in Finland through the USO. Those people in hard to reach areas of the UK may find that it is too costly to receive broadband and they may remain as a broadband not-spot. Finlands plans do not end with 1Meg broadband however, as they have intentions to boost this to 100Mbps to everyone by 2015. This is a target we in the UK will be lucky to reach by 2020 as a universal service, although some lucky people will be able to get it later this year from Virgin Media.

Comments

Posted by MarkHampshire over 6 years ago
At the moment the decision about whether to supply ADSL at all remains in BT's hands as a monopoly. One possible answer: a minimum standard for all lines of 2Mbps. In very specific cases, BT could raise a case with OFCOM where upgrading (to copper) or re-routing the lines has a cost which isn't justifiable e.g. the benefit would only be to < 20 houseeholds and have an escape route that way, otherwise, new pairs and re-routing becomes mandatory.
Posted by herdwick over 6 years ago
so what happens if a Finn currently can 't get 1M broadband ? Who supplies it and who pays.

I'm guessing it would be a mobile solution, in the homeland of Nokia.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
The speed increase to 1Mb/s means that the service must also be implemented with upgraded wireless solutions across rural areas of the country.

http://www.circleid.com/posts/20091015_finland_legislates_universal_broadband/
Posted by mhc over 6 years ago
Who will pay?

One of my previous PAs was Finnish and came from a farming family. Even in 2005 they did not have a fixed line telephone and needed to drive several kilometres to get a mobile phone signal. They relied on a radio link, through a relay to other farmers for contact. A link for them would cost ten of thousands of Euros whether fixed line or mobile.

Posted by TaRkADaHl over 6 years ago
It is possible to provide broadband to any area, the issue has always been, and always will be, cost.

This is where gov funding will have to come in, no private company is going to offer to run 25km of fibre to a group of 5 households and then charge them the same rate as people in the centre of london have to pay.

People just need to accept that if you live in the middle of no-where, things will cost more.
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 6 years ago
I was talking to someone who lives in a village of 200 people in the middle of nowhere, he was complaining that BT should spent some of their £2.5 billion getting them broadband. Why? Will they ever get their money back? Heck no.

Putting services in should be seen as an investment, investments are meant to pay off, if they aren't going to, then you don't invest. Any business that doesn't operate on this model will fail.
Posted by MarkHampshire over 6 years ago
@TaRkADaHl - agree with the thrust of your points. My comments were in relation to built up urban areas which have no access to broadband of any sort, or maybe ADSL at <2Mbps, which are not profitable to upgrade - if they can get e.g. 256kbps there is no incentive to do anything since BT have the monpoly on the lines and until they're cabled or there's a decent 3G service, upgrade = no more cash for BT. My suggestion was about correcting that (as a country we seem to be going in the direction of BB being thought of as essential), rather than universal coverage to "the middle of nowhere".
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 6 years ago
@MarkHampshire There are a fair few in cities which only get crap speeds, however BT are spending £2.5 Billion upgrading these areas and others to FTTC, this will sort out a huge portion of these people very quickly.

Ive seen people in cities go from 512k up to 35Mb with FTTC already. Hopefully it will continue.

As long as the area is built up enough, then FTTC will be viable and they will be included in the roll out.

I'd like to think that VM will expand coverage, but with £200mill+ losses every year, I don't know how much they will actually do.
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 6 years ago
Hopefully the current FTTC rollout will get enough interest/uptake from people to get a decent cash flow coming in to re-coup the vast amount of cash they are pouring in, once they start to get the cash flow then there should be stready progress for the slightly less viable areas.
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 6 years ago
I am quite enjoying watching progress of these small villages who are rasiing their own cash, and small providers who are installing infratructure, hopefully this will gather a little more pace and keep going.

Always quite liked the redneck/DIY lets get it done approach compared to the big business trundling along one... :)
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
Mark - BT do not have a monopoly on lines. There are many other telcos.
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 6 years ago
@Somerset - But Openreach, part of BT, do own/maintain all copper based circuits in the UK apart from the small section that Kingston have.

They are forced to re-sell everything at a fair rate and cannot even allow deals to BT Retail (the service providing part of BT) but becuase they own everything. It is still *technically* a monopoly.

When open access is finalised to the poles and ducts for VM/BT/Kingston it will be a fair playing field.

BUT, no one will want to install there own UK-wide infratructure, its far too expensive.
Posted by mhc over 6 years ago
@ TaRkADaHl
There is nothing to stop anyone else installing the final mile network. It is that no one wants to invest in it.

Posted by otester over 6 years ago
Still dont like government involvement.

If you want a good connection, MOVE!
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
Ta - that's not the definition of a monopoly. Also half the population lives in a VM area.
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 6 years ago
@mhc - thats what I said.

@Somerset - I said "*technically*". Openreach have (apart from kingston) 100% of the copper network and all providers have to rent their services. If OR increased their prices, everyone would be effected, and if they shut up shop, everyone would be effected. They are also forced by Ofcom to offer services to all ISP's on a level playing field. Whilst not in charge of 100% of the UK infratructure, they do have significant market power which is just a small step down from a monopoly.
Posted by JohnUK over 6 years ago
Again I would point out the Rutland example, where BT could not see an immediate viable expansion of FTTC in that rural area, locals did it themselves. This is something no provider can match LOCAL KNOWLEDGE if they can club together they can petition BT for a viable exchange/network or start one themselves.
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 6 years ago
Also, Iwade in Sittingbourne got a grant from Kent County Council and help from BT to get fttc put in... BT wasnt going to do it becuase of cost, council stumps up the extra and there you go. 1300 people will not get fttc.

If BT would make a loss, get the council to cover the excess and they will do it :)
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 6 years ago
oops... 1300 will NOW get fftc I mean...
Posted by herdwick over 6 years ago
"100% of the copper network" - apart from the VM phone lines, presumably
Posted by herdwick over 6 years ago
In Rutland a few wealthy residents were prepared to lend money to a local company to do it for them, which is hardly "do it yourself". They are also left with a monopoly provision - you get Rutland broadband and Rutland phone services, no choice. Which might be OK.

Competition is good. The Rutland option meant somewhere that would be on BT's FTTC plans for about 2030 gets it sooner. The return allegedly paid to the investors sounds sensible too, though I have no idea how repeatable the model is. Community networks didn't get far first time round.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
Ta - someone has to own the infrastructure.
Posted by MarkHampshire over 6 years ago
If the BT Group doesn't have a monpoly on the lines, how do I get a line installed from which the BT Group makes no profit?
Posted by MarkHampshire over 6 years ago
You're the BT Group choosing where to deploy FTTC. Do you a) target areas with little or no connectivity who have no alternatives anyway, or b) target Virgin Media areas which already have broadband?
Posted by herdwick over 6 years ago
"how do I get a line installed from which the BT Group makes no profit? "

- get a VM cable phone. Or just their broadband.

Your stipulation of "no profit" is an odd one - could apply to many lines esp ones that generate faults requiring engineer attendance.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
Mark - try C&W or VM.

All BT broadband is rented by the ISPs. What do you think they want?
Posted by herdwick over 6 years ago
If I were running BT's CapEx I would be looking to maximise NPV - targeting the highest returns first.
Posted by MarkHampshire over 6 years ago
.. and if I live in the ~ 55% of the country with no access to Virgin Media services...?
Posted by MarkHampshire over 6 years ago
Am I the only person who sees the conflict of interest in having one of the broadband suppliers also having the monopoly (in 55% of the country) on the delivery infrastructure?

I suspect what the ISPs want is a reliable network to deliver their services over and one which supplies what their customers want, not just what they're given.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
Which is why the ISPs work together with other communications providers, Ofcom and equipment manufacturers.

What do the ISPs want that they are not given?
Posted by MarkHampshire over 6 years ago
@herdwick - so how does BT's FTTC plan sit with delivering broadband to the final third?

I suspect it has little to do with it, the Finland article - and the activity in Aus - shows how the market fails and will continue to fail, and government intervention is essential.

Back to that conflict of interest point... :-)
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
Where is there a conflict of interest? FTTC and FTTP is open to all ISPs.
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
Mark - what would you do for the final third? Many who are in small numbers on the end of long lines.
Posted by MarkHampshire over 6 years ago
I'm not personally convinced it's "many in small numbers". I'd have thought most of the < 2Mbps properties/premises are urban towards the edges of towns and built up areas. I think the only solution is going to be something along the lines of this: http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/06/20/2931852.htm - gov't oversees a Network Rail type stucture with a NFP organisation running the infra' and 4G and wireless are used for outlying rurals. Some areas may never be covered, but I'd have thought that would be < 0.5% of population for whom it is valid to say "move house".
Posted by MarkHampshire over 6 years ago
And on that very conflict of interest point just today: http://status.aaisp.net.uk/?incident=319
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
Where is the conflict of interest in this incident?

Won't FTTC sort out the edges of towns and cities? As long as the ISPs see enough customers signing up. Remember it's exchange areas that matter, not where they are.
Posted by MarkHampshire over 6 years ago
If A&A can't supply a decent service over the BT monopoly network, how many other national networks can they choose from? Who is made to look bad to the (less informed) end consumer here: A&A or BT?

Whether or not FTTC will help with the final third, would depend on where FTTC is rolled out to.

Like with VM's expansion plans - I'd watch the actions, not the words.
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 6 years ago
Gotta say, that A&A blog post is pretty awesome...
Posted by Somerset over 6 years ago
Let's see if the government find some money to roll out fast broadband to the final third.

A&A do not have to use the BT core.
Posted by MarkHampshire over 6 years ago
Put it this way: if VM found the money to fill in the non cabled bits of towns and cities, or cable new areas, would that be more or less likely to encourage BT to supply FTTC to those so-called unprofitable areas, in the same way that everywhere there's a Sainsbury's, there's a Tesco.. (apart from here, since they can never get planning permission LOL)
Posted by TaRkADaHl over 6 years ago
Would love to see vm do that... already sitting at 200m loss every year :)
Posted by seb (Favicon staff member) over 6 years ago
@mhc: you have to live in the middle of nowhere, and then further, to get no mobile phone signal in 2005.. Maybe in 1990s but not in 2000s.
Posted by cyberdoyle over 6 years ago
seb, many people round here within a 10km radius of a city (Lancaster) don't get a mobile signal. just sayin. You only need to look at the ofcom maps to see large areas of the country that aren't covered. These are the areas supplying your food and water. The people who live and work there can't all move into the city. The same areas with no mobile also have no adsl in many cases.
Posted by mhc over 6 years ago
@ Seb ...

Middle of nowhere! My house in Scotland gets an occasional signal from Vodafone and friends a few miles away get absolutely nothing.

Believe me, in 2005 they had nothing where her parents are in Finland.

Posted by davidinnotts over 6 years ago
So how have the Finns solved the problem of universal provision? How do, for example, Lapps in Northern Finland, 500 miles from any town, get their 2Mb service?

Or maybe they, too, have get-outs for the areas with zilch chances of a landline link, because the millions it would cost to set up and maintain for a few hundred people are - rightly, I think - too much for the rest of us to bear?

I'm not knocking the idea of reasonable, almost-universal provision. Just wanting to vote on the side of sanity. And if the Finns DO have an answer for the ultra-remote areas, I want to know!
Posted by camieabz over 6 years ago
I feel that some are a little quick to declare that those in rural areas should either:

Fork out
Move house

How about if rural communities start to charge urban folk for driving around in their areas, insisting if they want meat or cereal, they should buy cows, or cultivate a field of their own?

Maybe some should consider the benefits that the countryside provide to the urban dwellers before consigning them to permanent notspots.

P.S. - Rural on 6.5 Meg, so not sourgrapes. ;)
Posted by camieabz over 6 years ago
Oh yes, and why are 24MBp/s contracts the same price as 8MBp/s ones?

Surely the ADSL2+ customers should be paying 'up to' three times as much? Pffft.
Posted by habika over 6 years ago
If OR increased their prices, everyone would be effected, and if they shut up shop, everyone would be effected. They are also forced by Ofcom to offer services to all ISP's on a level playing field. Whilst not in charge of 100% of the UK infratructure, they do have significant market power which is just a small step down from a monopoly.
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Posted by habika over 6 years ago
If OR increased their prices, everyone would be effected, and if they shut up shop, everyone would be effected. They are also forced by Ofcom to offer services to all ISP's on a level playing field. Whilst not in charge of 100% of the UK infratructure, they do have significant market power which is just a small step down from a monopoly.
========================
<a href="http://bestcardservice.com">Card Service</a>
Posted by habika over 6 years ago
If OR increased their prices, everyone would be effected, and if they shut up shop, everyone would be effected. They are also forced by Ofcom to offer services to all ISP's on a level playing field. Whilst not in charge of 100% of the UK infratructure, they do have significant market power which is just a small step down from a monopoly.
========================
[url=http://bestcardservice.com]Card Service[/url]
Posted by habika over 6 years ago
If OR increased their prices, everyone would be effected, and if they shut up shop, everyone would be effected. They are also forced by Ofcom to offer services to all ISP's on a level playing field. Whilst not in charge of 100% of the UK infratructure, they do have significant market power which is just a small step down from a monopoly.
========================
[url="http://bestcardservice.com" rel="dofollow"]Card Service[/url]
Posted by MALOVIERE over 6 years ago
Having recently returned from several years' living in London to my old home in the West of England, some three to four miles outside a prosperous historic market-town of some seven thousand people on the main railway-line from London to Land's End, I find an average broadband-speed on the communal house-network (having been waiting since the beginning of May for B.T. to provide me with a private telephone-line) of 0.5 Mbps. (when I can connect at all), supported by occasional, erratic and wholly unreliable cellular-network coverage from all providers ~
Posted by MALOVIERE over 6 years ago
so yes, upon the basis of my own experience I feel quite sure there really are people on these small islands still to-day 'deprived' of both of these alleged communicative commodities ~ and more than likely to remain so, if my own experience is any measure . . .
Posted by MALOVIERE over 6 years ago
I further discover, upon consulting O2 to explore the possibility of changing service-providers, that given that their equipment indicates the house to be 7.2 kilometres [4 1/2 miles] from the town-exchange, they would not undertake to provide service at all, since the additional piece of equipment installed by them at the exchange to accelerate data-transfer via ADSL+2 becomes unstable at distances over 6 kilometres [3 3/4 miles], thereby rendering the connection unserviceable . . .
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