Swedish government pledges super-fast broadband for all
The Swedish government says that 90 per cent of all Swedish homes will have access to a 100 megabits per second internet connection by 2020.
04 Nov 2009
The Swedish government has pledged universal broadband speeds of up to 100 megabits per second by 2020 Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Åsa Torstensson, Sweden's infrastructure minister, said the internet was becoming "increasingly important"for economic and social development.
Around 89 of Swedish households already have internet access, but the current minimum connection speed is 20 kilobits per second.
UK should look to French 'three strikes' model, says Vivendi chief "Today we use the internet and broadband in particular to seek information, access news and do business," said Ms Torstensson. "Communication is primarily one-way and connects businesses with customers and authorities with the citizens.
"But the trend is towards a greater element of two-way communication with users who both consume and produce content in the interactive network, such as online communities, blogs, file sharing and other social media. Another trend is the increased consumption of digital media and entertainment such as music, television, video and various video services.
"Although broadband access is generally good in Sweden, we still have thousands of households and enterprises with no access to broadband today. Sweden is a sparsely populated, elongated country... The need for broadband is as great in rural areas as in other parts of the country."
She pledged that by 2020, 90 per cent of Swedish households will have access to broadband at speeds of at least 100 megabits per second, with at least 40 per cent of Swedes achieving those speeds by 2015.
"All market players have a responsibility," she said. "The dynamism and innovation that exists in the market will be valued and encouraged. This means that efforts are needed by both individuals, companies and the public sector if we are to succeed.
"The government should not control the market or technological developments. The government's main task is to create good conditions for the market, formulate policy goals and eliminate obstacles to development, and promote the existence of relevant policies that provide all stakeholders with an opportunity to act on equal terms."
The Swedish government's announcement comes just weeks after Finland declared fast broadband a legal right. The Finnish government pledged to ensure all households had access to internet connections at a minimum speed of one megabit per second from July next year. The government has already committed to rolling out 100 megabits per second broadband connections across the country by 2015.
The stance of Scandinavian countries is in stark contrast to the British Government's plans for universal broadband access. In the Digital Britain report, published earlier this year, the Government said it planned to provide a broadband service to all UK households, at speeds of at least two megabits per second, by 2012.
But critics have branded this speed "inadequate" and questions remain about how rural and remote areas will be supplied with fast broadband services.
The Federation of Small Business said the Government was living in a "time warp".
"By 2012, £1 in every £5 will come from online commerce," said John Wright, chairman of the federation.
"But if small businesses are to compete, the Government must take bolder action. Most small businesses want a minimum broadband speed of eight megabits per second."