"Finland has worked hard to develop an information society and a couple of years ago we realised not everyone had access," she said. As much as 96% of the country's 5.2 million people are already online, leaving only about 4,000 homes that need to be connected in accordance with the new law. By comparison, the UK government aims to provide 99% of its population with 2Mb/s speeds by 2012 (up from 73%) – although there's no law.
In the US, the FCC is pushing for a similar standard with its National Broadband Plan. Like Finland, the agency believes the Internet is a valuable resource and US citizens should have cheap, speedy access. In fact, the FCC expects the Internet to displace phones, TV and other conventional communication technologies. It hopes broadband Internet will exist in 90% of US homes over the next decade, compared to around 65% currently.