Approaches to rural broadband in Europe

Many European countries are now getting at a point in their Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) deployment where the only portions of the territory that remain uncovered are deep rural areas. In initial plans laid out a decade ago, these areas were considered very hard to reach. Policy instruments were aimed at delivering some broadband solution there, but not necessarily FTTP.

Now that rural is the last hurdle, policy goals have shifted, with countries like Spain, France and the UK openly stating that their goal is to have fibre deployed to every premise in the country. However, policy instruments vary from country to country depending on how much each government wishes (or can) rely on the private market and how granular the level of intervention.

The aim of this report is to examine the goals, approaches and policies put in place by the EU countries most advanced in deployment or most ambitious in targets when it comes to rural broadband connectivity. The paper examines the change in approach compared to when broadband plans were put in place, the quasi-universal target of 100% fibre coverage, the role of alternative technologies like FWA and satellite and the political context of universal coverage.