European Union had recently introduced ‘Digital Agenda for Europe’ under which, all European nations were asked to present national broadband plans. Finland has not only envisioned such a plan, it is well on its way to implement universal 100 Mbps service by 2015.
The country is at the forefront of implementing a vast infrastructure so that virtually every person in Finland will have access to a 100Mbps connection by the year 2015. Interestingly, Finland is already on the verge of achieving that goal, 2015 still being three years off.
Currently, 86 percent Finnish populace lives within two kilometers of a 100Mbps connection. In other words, 86 percent of this population has the ultra-high speed internet at hand, one which it can access anytime it wants to.
Finnish authorities believe that by 2015, this number will be bolstered to 95 percent by making this high-speed internet available in the farthest and remotest parts of the country. According to the Vice Chair of the National Broadband Advisory Committee in Finland, Juha Parantainen, “I am confident. There is no reason why we [can’t meet this goal].”
Criticisms and shortcomings:
However, a significant portion of this internet connectivity is being ensured through mobile broadband service which is not as efficient or reliable as fiber-optics connections. And naturally, many have to chose to pass on the opportunity. Mobile broadband is also the primary choice of national operators who are able to make greater profits from it. And so far, they have shied away from the national broadband project which may slash their profits.
Criticism has also been heaped on the project by analysts who speculate that the ground realities show that 100Mbps connection is practically available to only a handful of people. And that the government is simply playing up the hype to score points with EU as well as the masses.
According to a professor of communication policy at University of Helsinki, Hannu Nieminen, “Without new measures and targeting of the problems in the implementation process, the original goal will be difficult or even impossible to reach.”
Benefits for rural areas:
But this criticism may not be full qualified since numerous rural areas in Finland indeed have a 100Mbps connection, something which is changing the lifestyles rapidly. The good part is that it is allowing local artists and skilled personnel to stay in town and work online from their homes rather than having to move to major cities.
The town’s municipal manager says, “People like artists and people who are designing buildings can work at home and I think that this was very important for us to do. Also, they can study at home because the network has made a possibility to study.”
While Finland has certainly undertaken a huge project which will require time and a lot of resources to complete, there is a vital need for the government to take independent regulatory bodies on board so that the policy can be strictly supervised. Only that will ensure that the vision is effectively translated into a reality.