Once again, the Europeans are one-upping the Americans on the broadband delivery front. While the U.S. remains embroiled in arguments on how it should realign the Universal Service Fund (USF) to subsidize voice services in rural markets, the Finnish and Spanish governments are thinking broadband should be part of a universal service mandate. The two countries have set a common goal: by 2011 any resident in Finland or Spain will be able to get an affordably-priced 1 Mbps connection.
In Spain, the government said they will require any service provider that's getting universal service funds to extend broadband service to any home in their respective serving areas by January 2011. And while the speed is just 1 Mbps, the idea is to enable any person to get Internet access. Although Finland is offering a similar 1 Mbps, their timeline is calling to have the universal service requirement in place by July 1, 2010.
While 1 Mbps sounds like a paltry speed, the two countries believe that it will create a foundation to provide Internet service everywhere and allow for necessary network upgrades to accommodate higher speeds. Instead of harping on the meaning of 'unserved' vs. 'underserved' and what the right speed is, perhaps the U.S. should take a look at Finland and Spain's 1 Mbps as a potential model from which to build its own broadband policy.
- ars technica has this article