The digital divide is a key issue in mountain areas where access to broadband is insufficient or even not existent at all. The challenge is therefore to implement innovative solutions that allow the mountain population and businesses to benefit from the advantages linked to efficient ICT infrastructure to the same degree as those living in lowland or urban areas.
Euromontana attended a short presentation on “Digital divide in rural areas: satellite broadband solutions” at the European Parliament on 28th January 2015. Thanks to the satellites, the broadband could be accessible everywhere with a minimum speed above 2 Mbps. But this infrastructure has a cost: around 600€ per household is needed to install the required antenna to have access to the Internet through the satellites.
As everybody can’t afford this cost and as the need to have high speed Internet is more and more recognised as a key condition to have better access to education, employment and to develop enterprises, some local authorities or development agencies have developed projects to take in charge these installation costs. This was the solution chosen by Eure et Loir Numérique in France for instance. This organisation has the goal to provide Internet solutions, with a minimum speed of 2 Mbps to all the inhabitants of the region. For remote areas, where there is no Internet so far and where it is not planned to have the fiber in the two coming years, Eure et Loir Numérique has taken in charge the installation costs of the antenna to provide Internet through satellites. In 2014, more than 100 households were equipped with this system.
Euromontana is strongly convinced by the absolute need to develop high speed broadband in mountain areas and has already signed the ENGAGE Manifesto on High Speed Broadband in rural areas, thus we welcome this initiative and we hope that it will inspire other local and regional authorities in mountain areas.28 January 2015