Analysing Broadband Access for Rural Development (A-BARD) is a Coordination Action to research rural broadband provision and use. ABARD will both identify views on the issues and barriers to widespread broadband provision and the extent to which broadband can act as an external driver of change in rural economies.

Rural areas tend to equate with the less developed regions of Europe particularly in the context of telecommunications infrastructure supply. They are also synonymous with areas that are becoming increasingly disadvantaged and excluded from the emerging Information Society and the affordable broadband access that it requires. However the advent of the Information Society and the widespread adoption of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) offers significant opportunities to facilitate structural change and enhanced „quality of life“ in rural areas.

Key questions that A-BARD will address include:
– What applications and services exist, what is emerging, how, when and who should implement the solutions?
– When will they be accessible and affordable in rural areas?.
– What socio-economic aspects need to be considered to ensure that meaningful applications and services development and implementation takes place in rural areas?

The consortium is composed of partners who are active in ICT developments in rural areas and representative of a range of European regional requirements. The necessary analytical skills and knowledge of relevant technologies exists within the consortium, to provide answers to these questions by:
– Monitoring & assessing relevance of applications of IT in the rural domain, on an ongoing basis.
– Quantifying and typifying rural areas. Rural areas differ widely as do their specific IT needs
– Undertaking detailed case studies, identify good practice, and convene local workshops
– Disseminating findings widely
– Preparing policy recommendations that are driven by rural needs – not technological possibility

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