Linking the Digital Agenda to rural and sparsely populated areas to boost their growth potential

Contracting Party: The European Committee of the Regions (CoR)(with the Framework Contract EYCR – Education, Youth, Culture and Research)

Period: 2016



This study, co-authored by Progress Consulting S.r.l., provides an analysis of the state of the art of broadband deployment in areas which are considered unattractive by private investors, either because of structural challenges (e.g. fragmented demand) or financial drawbacks (e.g. high deployment and maintenance cost of the infrastructure). In particular, the focus is on rural, remote and sparsely populated areas of the EU which are defined at NUTS3 level. The research first characterizes these areas using latest available statistics on broadband coverage and having the 2020 Digital Agenda for Europe targets in mind. Then, it identifies most common barriers to ICT infrastructure investments as well as the tools and instruments commonly adopted by local and regional authorities (LRAs) for financing the deployment of the infrastructures and/or for attracting external investments. Five case studies are developed to investigate in more details some of these approaches. The study concludes suggesting ways of financing of ICT infrastructures in underserved or unserved areas which apparently are not sufficiently exploited or taken up by LRAs.