July 15, 2021

How Governments are Working to Close the Urban-Rural Digital Divide

Video By

H.E. Mr. Roberto Sánchez

Secretary Of State For Telecommunications And Digital Infrastructures, Ministry Of Economic Affairs And Digital Transformation Of Spain

The ideas and opinions expressed in this insight are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect those of ITU and UNESCO or the Broadband Commission. The mention of specific companies, products or services does not imply that they are endorsed or recommended by ITU or UNESCO or Broadband Commission in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.

Broadband extension, quality and adequate services are urgent as they represent the backbone of economic, social and territorial cohesion. Even in countries that enjoy a wide digital connectivity network, rural connectivity is still an issue. 

Globally, 72% of households in urban areas had access to Internet at home in 2019, almost twice as much as in rural areas. Spain ranks third for digital connectivity in Europe. Last year, global broadband coverage for 100Mbps reached 88% of the population. 

Still the urban rural gap was significant. 

In the last three years, we have been concentrating most of the aids to deploy broadband networks in those areas. Smart regulation has also promoted private investment. The combination of both allowed us to grow two digits every year. The result, in 2020, rural areas coverage[1]: reached 63% of the population, one of the highest in Europe. 

High-level leadership is key to set a bottom up and top down strategy to bridge the urban-rural divide with the consensus of all stakeholders. Together with national policies and the 2030 Agenda, the BBCOM 2025 Targets will help us reach connectivity for the 3.8 billion people unconnected. Cooperation between all stakeholders, together with public-private partnerships are key enablers to bring connectivity to all. Furthermore, we are proud to contribute to this means by participating in the 21st Century Financing, Funding and Investment Working group. 

We move forward to accelerate digital transformation and to leave no one behind, no one offline.