FINLAND has become the first country in the world to make access to a broadband connection a legal right for every one of its citizens.
However, Irish internet users are unlikely to enjoy any similar benefit in the near future as no similar plan is under consideration by the Government.
However, a spokesman for Communications Minister Eamon Ryan said Ireland is ahead of the EU target of 2013 for full broadband availability.
From yesterday, every Finn has the legal entitlement to access a 1 Mbps (megabit per second) broadband connection.
Under a Finnish law, telecommunications companies are obliged to provide all citizens with broadband lines that can run at such a speed.
In addition, the Finnish government has promised the legal right will be increased to a broadband connection speed of 100Mbps by 2015.
The Finnish communications minister, Suvi Linden, said the internet was part of everyday life for Finnish people and was no longer just for entertainment.
Up to 96% of Finns are already online and it is estimated that only about 4,000 homes will need to be connected to comply with the law.
The British government has promised a minimum connection of at least 2 Mbps to all households by 2012, although it is not a legally-binding commitment.
Internet access here rose from 50% in 2006 to 67% last year. However access to a broadband connection increased from just 13% to 54% over the same period.
Mr Ryan’s spokesman said €1.5 billion of public and private money had been invested on broadband services over the past three years.
She pointed out that by the end of 2010 every part of Ireland will have a broadband service under the Government’s National Broadband Scheme.
A further rural scheme is being designed to deliver broadband to any black spot areas that have for various reasons been difficult to reach.
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