On 13 February 2018 atene KOM hosted another “Governmental Day” workshop, this time dedicated to concepts tackling the rural digital divide. More than 100 participants, amongst them representatives of national, regional and local municipalities of EU Member States as well as academic staff and entrepreneurs. The event was part of the FTTH Conference, taking place in Valencia, Spain.


As a keynote, Carlota Reyners Fontana, Head of Unit B5, DG Connect, European Commission, provided a thorough insight into the broadband development initiatives and actions within the European Commission, such as the BCO network, funding and financing possibilities, connectivity for a European Gigabit Society, WiFi4EU and Broadband Europe. In her presentation, she put in context current standings and objectives, consequences and strategies, measures undertaken and to be launched, but also an idea of what to emphasise, where to intensify and how to move on with European and global perspectives.

Subsequently, the workshop focused on concepts to overcome the digital rural divide. Four Best Practice examples from Italy, England, Sweden and Germany – all finalists and winners of European Broadband Awards 2017 – and the case of Guifi.net from Spain demonstrated useful strategies and solutions for rural areas.

Peyman Khodabakhsh, Project Manager atene KOM, added a transnational perspective. He presented CORA, a project where 18 partners from 7 EU Member States share their experiences in the fields of digital infrastructure, e-government and digital services in order to identify challenges and develop solutions.

Interactive “Multilogues”

Finally, all participants was offered the chance to discuss and exchange their views and ideas concerning broadband development in rural areas via “Multilogues”. This format was setup for the first time in the frame of Governmental Day workshop. In a first step, the biggest challenges for broadband expansion in European rural areas could be identified. Amongst them were cultural differences between urban and rural people as well as geographic differences between cities and rural areas. Furthermore, digital skills for elderly people and access and use of technology were discussed.

In a second step, the participants worked out ideas to solve these challenges. Three categories can be identified:

Involving all parties

  • Get local authorities on board
  • Talk and cooperate with all utilities
  • Training of digital skills in the perspective of life-long learning in order not to leave anyone behind
  • Taking on a long-term perspective

Communication and considering specific regional characteristics

  • Understanding local needs and specifics. Considering the regional perspective plays a crucial role
  • Communication about the importance of internet/digitization
  • Concentration on tourism spots, public places and local businesses in rural areas to show people what the digital may do and can bring into effect
  • Caution and flexibility in regulation to give space to member states, regions and local communities. Considering the important role of local communities

Economic measures

  • In order to expand their business models, utilities should use the existing customers to introduce them to broadband offers
  • Promote tax deductions
  • Present innovative solutions and ideas to banks and investors
  • Develop new business models

This fifth edition of atene KOM’s Governmental Day workshop has been once more a fruitful platform for all actors involved in broadband expansion in Europe. Especially the “Multilogues” demonstrated the big variety of digitization challenges and showed what solutions can be applied, depending on the specific regional situations. Continuation is planned.

Presentations for download (PDF)

Foto top, l-r: Tony Shortall, Managing Director TELAGE and Moderation of atene KOM Governmental Day Workshop, Peyman Khodabakhsh, Projekt Manager atene KOM GmbH, Carlota Reyners Fontana, Head of Unit B5, DG Connect, European Commission, Steven Eke, Colchester Business Broadband UK, Johannes Feldmann, COO atene KOM GmbH, Francesco Berni, Coviolo Wireless, Italy, Heinz-Peter Labonte, Lauchhammer, Germany, Christian Zieske, Senior Projekt Manager atene KOM GmbH at atene KOM’s Governmental Day Workshop, FTTH Conference, 13 February 2018, Valencia.
Fotocredits: atene KOM GmbH