Bringing high-speed broadband to islands is challenging and can be expensive if submarine cables are necessary. In the case of the remote Croatian islands of Rab and Cres, a cost-efficient alternative employed a hybrid solution of optical and microwave radio links to create a mainland-to-island multi-gigabit connectivity project.
The islands are principally rural ‘white NGA’ areas, covered mostly by wireless networks with limited high-speed internet coverage. This project, lead by the private company A1, works by combining the existing optical network and modern radio relay technologies. As a result, the gigabit connectivity achieved in these remote islands is comparable to networks employing fibre optic infrastructure.
Fibre connectivity was first introduced to the island of Krk. From there, a multi-gigabit signal was transmitted to the islands of Rab and Cres using microwave radio links that ensure a high-capacity backhaul network for the LTE radio access network.
This project was especially important for these islands with regard to the future, as gigabit connectivity is a pre-requisite for 5G. The project’s innovative use of technology was also cost-effective and made the project a finalist in the 2018 European Broadband Awards.
For more information, visit the project’s factsheet in the European Commission database of good practices in broadband projects.
About European funding for Broadband
The Commission’s strategy on connectivity for a European Gigabit Society, sets a vision of Europe where availability of very high capacity networks enable the widespread use of products, services and applications in the Digital Single Market. This objective is challenging in rural areas and other
disadvantaged regions (remote, mountainous or sparsely populated areas) where depopulation and a lack of economic opportunities are higher.
Today, broadband projects in the Member States are struggling to ensure grants and funds for investment. The European Commission estimated in 2013 that up to 250 billion euro will be required to achieve the 2020 broadband targets and 500 billion euro to achieve the 2025 broadband targets. However, the re-use of existing infrastructure and effective implementation of Cost Reduction Directive could bring down these costs.
In order to support Member States and private investors, as well as to promote economic growth and opportunities, the European Union has made available financial tools that can boost broadband investment.