addressing the hurdles
Surmounting these hurdles will allow Italy to capture untapped opportunities.
Italy’s existing network performance is sufficient to guarantee basic Internet usage to the majority of the population; it is not, however, adequate for enabling consumers and companies to fully benefit from the upcoming technologies. In the overall quality of internet access measured by the comprehensive “Broadband Quality Score,” Italy ranks 40th out of 72 countries analyzed, with a score of 27/100. This value is close to the lower limit for comfortable usage of today’s Internet applications. The Italian digital ecosystem would gain significant benefit from a more stable and fastest access to the Internet.
The digital divide
A significant number of Italians have no broadband access at all, falling on the other side of the “digital divide.” As of March 2011, 7.1% of the population (4.3 million people) lived in areas without internet access. To connect these areas, Italy should pursue opportunities in next-generation network technologies, in both the wired (fiber) and in the wireless (LTE 4G and WiMAX) spaces.
This infrastructural gap may be a relatively minor barrier to the development of the digital economy today. However, unless an effective and long-term investment strategy in implemented, this gap will widen over the course of the next few years, as Internet capacity becomes increasingly taxed by rising numbers of Internet-using devices and bandwidth-hungry applications.