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ENGAGE - High Speed Broadband for RURAL Europe

ICT is recognized as a key factor in helping rural areas in Europe to develop but there is still a real rural-urban gap in broadband coverage. The ENGAGE partnership therefore set as its principal objective ‘to better understand and address the issue of how to build a high speed broadband (HSB) network at efficient cost in rural areas’, to ensure a sound foundation for the maintenance or even strengthening of local populations and economic activities. In view of the significance & strategic importance of the next generation access networks (with 10 percent increase in high speed Internet connections, economic growth increases by 1.3 percent source – World Bank) ENGAGE aimed to help the participating regions speed up the design and implementation of HSB policies.

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) minimize distance and boost the attractiveness of remote and rural areas. ICT enhances the dissemination of information, knowledge and innovative content, applications and services regardless of geographic location. The Internet improves the quality of life and people’s ability to participate in social and democratic life. Information and communication technologies (ICT) have been a fundamental driving force for new enterprises, new services and major technical innovation in recent years. ICT contributes about 40 percent of productivity growth and one quarter of overall economic growth in the European Union. The economic benefit created is most significant in explaining employment growth.

The 11 partners of the ENGAGE project had already all established as a policy priority access to affordable high speed broadband for their citizens, businesses and society and to making the investments and developing the services that will create the 2020 infrastructure of the digital age and that would meet the long-term needs of their citizens, economies and societies.

In each region first generation broadband had had a profound effect on civil society, work patterns and business practices; changing the way people, public services and business collaborate with each other. As first generation broadband services were starting to be replaced by higher capacity, faster networks, it became vitally important that rural areas are not left behind, they need new digital infrastructure as much as metropolitan Europe.

Following three years of collaboration and exchange between the ENGAGE partnership and institutions at European, national, regional and local levels we have produced a series of practical recommendations appropriate for all European regions incorporated in three main documents:

  1. The ENGAGE Manifesto
  2. The Broadband Investment Guide
  3. The ENGAGE White Paper

In addition the ENGAGE project and its partners have produced a series of tools and instruments to inform or inspire other regions across Europe on the practicalities, opportunities and benefits offered by High Speed Broadband:

  1. Partner implementation plans
  2. 37 Good HSB practices: on-line and pdf
  3. Videos: Best Practice in Lower Saxony, HSB for every one! and ENGAGE
  5. Application: ENGAGE APP

Further Readings

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