South East Europe improved virtual accessibility through joint initiatives facilitating the rollout of broadband networks
1. Background and objectives Access to information, broadband connectivity and financing of virtual accessibility are key components necessary for the development, adoption and use of ICT in the economy and society. Inadequacies in the telecommunication infrastructure and accessibility to services among the individual countries and regions of the programme area hamper significantly competitiveness and cohesion in South East Europe. Market mechanisms fail to address adequately the low population density and/or rural and remote areas. These problems have been widely acknowledged at European and national policy level. Member states and regions in the SEE area have adopted virtual accessibility strategies, but further work needs to be done particularly in elaborating comprehensive operational plans and mature implementing measures to achieve the objectives set regarding the broadband connectivity and accessibility of services. SIVA aims to contribute to the improvement of the accessibility of SEE territories through broadband services, as substitute for and supplementing physical accessibility and thus to the narrowing the digital gap in South East Europe. 2. Activities planned – Identification, assessment and analysis of the needs related to virtual accessibility. – Promotion of the exchange of experiences, consultation processes and coordination of policies and strategies related to the development of broadband infrastructures. – Development, testing and assessment of a transnational mechanism on the quality of experience regarding virtual accessibility, as an information basis to support decisions and strategies planning. – Promotion of the adoption of a common technical approach facilitated by geo-spatial analysis tools as a means to improve planning of network deployment. – Facilitation of reducing the network deployment costs through common policy approaches on mapping existing infrastructures and increasing their availability to other/new operators. – Identification, analysis and exchange of good practices and investment strategies. – Increasing awareness, promoting and disseminating the project results and knowledge beyond the consortium. – Identification of financing mechanisms allowing new public and private investments and facilitate the set up of public-private partnerships to invest in virtual accessibility. – Set up of agreements and political commitments with relevant decision makers and stakeholders for the use and promotion of the project’s results after the end of the project.