Closing gaps in the information society: providing high-speed broadband access to rural areas
Broadband, in particular the national level of broadband penetration is a significant driver for economic growth. Whilst the availability of broadband in terms of bandwidth and variety of competitive communication providers is highly sufficient in population dense areas, rural areas suffer massively from the digital divide effect. The term “digital divide” refers to the absence of high performance broadband connections in remote rural areas. This divide is not only the case for some specific areas; it is moreover a well known general phenomenon in industrialized countries. Recently, public pressure for an accelerated comprehensive roll-out of high performance broadband has become more intense. It can be observed, that access to broadband seems to receive more and more the status of a public good, where public engagement is required for provision. Resulting governmental activities to foster broadband penetration and usage especially in less populated and rural areas are easily comprehensible. But the question is now if and how public intervention is required for the provisioning of broadband access infrastructure. The feasibility of rural FTTH networks is hence at the core of the study at hand. 37 FTTH projects in rural areas were analyzed in this study according to a framework developed. In the end, the results suggest public private partnerships as a combination of public and private financing in funding (local) fibre infrastructure investment projects.
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