Rural Broadband: “Broadband Network Development in White Rural Areas of Greece”

The project “Broadband Network Development in white rural areas of Greece” which was awarded as one of the five winners of the European Broadband Awards 2017 is a national initiative supported by EU funds.

It intends to close the ‘broadband gap’ between remote, disadvantageous, traditionally “white rural areas” (remote and dispersed residential departments of Greece, mostly mountainous or insular), and the rest of the country where broadband services are already being offered. The project provides broadband high-capacity coverage, which occupies almost 45% of the Greek territory, as well as affordable and reliable connectivity services to approximately 525.000 citizens of 5.077 residential departments of rural and border areas of Greece deprived of a connection to the digital world.

The network offers its users internet access at a bandwidth up to 30 Mbps with an ability of a gradual advancement of service speed up to 50 Mbps.

The project promotes the upgrade of the Greek periphery, contributing to new forms of successful social, cultural, agricultural and sustainable environmental development, securing social inclusion and territorial cohesion, economic growth, viability and digital business productivity, while at the same time, by preventing economic activity relocation, it facilitates agricultural production and encourages people to conduct their businesses from their birthplace.

In this regard, broadband network discourages active population from concentration in large urban centres as well as the departure of young people and the depopulation of the white rural continental, island and coastal residential municipalities and departments of Greece.

Due to this project, a broadband high-capacity network developed, reaching remote areas of northern, central and southern regions of Greece where private Telecommunications partners would not have any interest to invest due to its low commercial value. It is estimated that an increased broadband penetration of about 8% will have a positive effect on economic growth by 1,2% in these sparsely populated areas of the country.

Competitiveness and entrepreneurship in cross-border regions, elimination of traffic congestion and air pollution, decentralization as well as digital connectivity between rural and urban areas are some of the most important benefits of the project that lead local economies to flourish and rural dwellers to remarkable improvement on their standards of living.

Initiatives of such a scale are considered as significant investments that create direct and indirect jobs and affect growth by providing a wide spectrum of innovative opportunities not only for better-paying agricultural jobs but also for non-agricultural employment to local communities.

Access to broadband network also fosters small-business growth, contributes to teleworking, provides instant access to crop market prices, enables agricultural businesses to compete more effectively in world markets and increases the overall productivity as well as the sustainable culture and tourism and the lifelong distant learning.

A tangible example of the immediate results of the project is the case of the remote kindergartens and primary schools in mountainous local communities of the prefecture of Pella in North Greece which, due to broadband internet, are able to equip their school workshops with educational digital media.

The project’s innovative investment model for the implementation combining two EU funds under the vehicle of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) is based on the DBFO (Design, Build, Finance and Operate) logic and concerns the full public funding of the capital expenditure.

The total project’s implementation cost amounts to EUR 199 715 754.00 (EUR 161 061 091.94 is eligible for co-financing by EU Structural and Investment funds and National funds) while the project is implemented in two programming periods.

In the first phase (PP 2007-2013), EU grants have been used through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). While in the second implementation phase (PP 2014-2020) grands have been used from ERDF and EAFRD as well as Greek national funds.

The project was awarded as a winner of the European Broadband Awards 2017, in the 3rd Category entitled “Territorial cohesion in rural and remote areas” that is organised by the Directorate-General for Communications Networks and Content and Technology (DG CONNECT).

Leading up – Organisation:

General Secretariat for Telecommunications and Post (GSTP) of the Ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and Media

Time frame

29.12.2014 to 30.06.2019