Internet access is part of our daily life. We need it for business, education, research, healthcare, news, entertainment, keeping in touch with friends and family. We need it available for everything everywhere. Life in the 21st century without Internet service cannot be imagined; there is a need for an available, accessible, and affordable Internet in every part of the planet.
On June 3, 2011, the United Nations released a report in which it affirmed “the right of all individuals to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds through the Internet.” The news sparked some questions, starting with the old and controversial one of what a human right is and whether access to the Internet should be one.
The United Nations drafted The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 when the concept of the Internet was not even a dream. Education is one of those human rights, and it cannot be denied that the Internet plays a vital role in education today.
The recent UN report was prompted by Finland’s pioneering initiative and other European countries that followed. Finland, a country with an estimated 97 percent of its population connected to the Internet, was first to declare broadband Internet access a legal right in 2009, making the proclamation effective on July 1, 2010. Making Net connectivity a fundamental right for every person in the country has put broadband Internet access in Finland on the same level as access to education and healthcare
Finland, one of the most Web-enabled countries in the world, designed the law to bring the Internet to geographically dispersed regions. A quarter of the country that is lying above the Arctic Circle now can also enjoy the benefits of broadband Internet, improving business opportunities and their quality of life.
Other countries have since joined Finland, including France, Estonia, Greece, and Spain, in declaring Internet access a legal (human?) right. The United States is the only industrialized country without a national policy to promote or help expand high-speed broadband Internet access.
How the proliferation of broadband Internet access will affect the electronics supply chain is simple and easy to see. The global and rapid expansion of the Internet is closely linked to the electronics supply chain, which, of course, supplies both the hardware and software used in accessing the Web. Faster Internet access demands more and faster supply of electronic devices able to cope with the speed Internet providers are offering.
That OEMs are responding by improving and accelerating the availability of better devices to access the Internet at home, offices, and on the road is obvious, considering the explosive growth now being seen in the sale of tablet PCs and smartphones.
There is a whole new world of opportunities out there for electronics suppliers, and the United Nations might have significantly expanded their potential market with its latest pronouncement. You may disagree about whether or not the Internet is a human right, but the thought is now out in the marketplace, and many people worldwide will be pushing for greater access than they currently have.
I strongly believe we should support the prompt availability of broadband Internet access around the world. Let's share some thoughts about this. How do you see the future of the Internet as a human right? What benefits could it bring to your region and the world as a whole? Finally, is your company positioned to support the dramatic growth everyone is expecting?