Program Participant

Name:Paolo Gerli
TitleCompany:Ph.D. Student, Northumbria University
Country:United Kingdom
Bio:Paolo is a researcher in Digital Economy and a Lecturer in Digital Entrepreneurship at Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University. His PhD focuses on the interplay between multiple actors in the ICT ecosystem, with a focus on superfast broadband in rural areas. His work has been published in Telecommunications Policy and presented at international conferences, both in the EU and the US. Prior to join Northumbria University, Paolo worked in the Italian telecommunications industry as a regulatory analyst for a broadband provider and an economic advisor for AGCOM, the Italian national authority for media and telecommunications.
Title:You can find Paolo in:


Community broadband networks have recently emerged as an alternative to both public and private players in the delivery of superfast broadband in rural areas. The impact of these initiatives upon the rural digital divide is, however, largely unknown. Focusing on Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN), a community FTTH network in the UK, this paper explores how a community-led initiative can contribute to bridging the access, adoption and outcome divides in rural areas. Following a bottom-up and demand-driven model, B4RN has managed to expand the supply and demand of superfast broadband in remote areas previously ignored by commercial and subsidised deployments. Its overall impact upon the rural digital divide has been constrained by the small scale of the project as well as its reliance on private contributions. Although it may not be replicable on a national scale and suitable for large organisations, the approach developed by B4RN confirms that involving local communities in the design and execution of broadband projects help minimising both access and adoption divides in rural communities.