Finland new broadband improves rural service

A man uses a laptop computer at a wireless cafe.

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: President Obama's expected to announce today nearly $800 million to expand broadband web access to rural and poor areas across the country. Tech advocates, though, want the president to go further. Asking him to make such access a legal right. That very thing happened in one Scandinavian country this week. The BBC's Rebecca Singer reports for Marketplace.


Rebecca Singer: Finland is already one of the most Internet connected nations in the world -- more than 90 percent of its 5 million people have access to high-speed broadband. But in the country's rural areas, the quality of the mobile Internet service is sometimes poor.

And that's the point of the new legal right. Every Finn must be provided with the most basic broadband connection. Suvi Linden is Finland's minister of communications:

Suvi Linden: We feel that proper communication links are no longer luxury products but necessary tools in day-to-day life. And that means in Finland we have been developing e-services for citizens that they can use in their daily life.

It's also more cost-efficient for the government to provide public services online, like paying taxes or applying for benefits. But that only works if everyone has reliable Web access.

In London, I'm the BBC's Rebecca Singer for Marketplace.

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