The WBIF supports the deployment of digital infrastructure (including broadband connectivity) in the region through technical assistance for the preparation of investment projects. Projects in the sector will focus on 'white zones' (areas without access to broadband network), rural areas, and support the digital connectivity of education, health, municipal and government institutions.
The significant gap of broadband coverage between rural and urban areas, as well as between income levels, is particularly challenging in the Western Balkans region. Few households have access to Internet connection speeds above 10 Mbit/s, and large-scale investments are needed across the region to catch-up and to reach the EU’s 2025 targets. These investments must ensure that the developments of broadband infrastructure are future-proof and focused on the most pressing needs and challenges. Projects will target the overall Internet penetration rate, rural-urban divide, low broadband speeds, and the digital connectivity of education, health municipal and government institutions.
The level of mapping of the existing infrastructure and planned investments differs largely in the region and a single detailed overview of digital connectivity in all six economies is missing. Broadband mapping is the first step in the identification of infrastructure projects, and the WBIF provides technical assistance in order to establish a comprehensive overview of broadband rollout.
The relatively poor level of broadband infrastructure in the Western Balkans is a challenge, but also an opportunity. With updated national broadband plans and a correct mapping of the broadband situation in the region, the WBIF, in cooperation with its partners, supports the development of projects/mechanisms to attract broadband investments.