Connecting the Unconnected: Enabling Rural Connectivity and Empowering Access – Flash 02 2024

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18 June 2024 | 11:30 - 12:15 EEST | WS room 2
Consolidated programme 2024 overview

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Session teaser

This session will discuss the multifaceted challenges of network access and rural connectivity, noting the disparity between urban and rural connectivity and its implications on a communities development. The discussion will provide examples on how innovative technologies are being used to address rural connectivity and access challenges thus contributing to bridging the digital divide for the unconnected and under connected areas.

Session description

This session highlights the critical gap in access and connectivity faced by rural communities worldwide. It emphasizes the importance of digital connectivity and access in rural connectivity and the importance of exploration of new technologies in the context of rural settings. One example is the role of the Gigabit Infrastructure Act, which is under finalization by the European Commission. The promise to deliver gigabit connectivity may collide with the technical challenges to fiber deployment in areas where there is a limited customer base and network deployment is not justified.

The discussion delves into the multifaceted challenges of rural connectivity, including geographical barriers, lack of infrastructure, population density, and the non-viability of traditional telecommunication solutions. It explores how these challenges contribute to a 'digital divide,' leaving rural populations at a disadvantage. Drawing on examples and the application of technical standards for technology-driven approaches such as the feasibility of broadband network solutions will show the potential for transformative change that will enable broadband connectivity in rural areas.


The format of this session is a panel with two speakers and a moderator.


  1. Welcome, Opening Remarks, Topic and Speaker Introduction - Moderator Karen Mulberry
  2. German government perspective on what is being done and needed to connect the unconnected - Dr. Irina Soeffky
  3. Introduction to Finland’s 6G project and overview of technology/standards including the IEEE Connect the Unconnected Challenge - Harri Saarnisaari
  4. Use Cases from Kyrgyzstan - Talant I. Sultanov
  5. Panel discussion (Prepared Questions) and Q&A - all panelists
  6. Wrap-Up and Closing Statement - Moderator Karen Mulberry

Further reading

  1. Gigabit Infrastructure Act:


Key participants

  • Harri Saarnisaari, Researcher, Centre for Wireless Communications (CWC), Oulu University, Finland/IEEE Future Networks Technical Community (FNTC) - (remote)
  • Irina Soeffky, Director for National, European, and International Digital Policy, Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV), Germany - (in person)
  • Talant Sultanov, Policy & Advocacy Lead/Advisor, Global Digital Inclusion Partnership (GDIP) for the Women in Digital Economy Fund (WinDEF) - (remote)


  • Karen Mulberry, Senior Manager, Public Affairs, IEEE Standards Association (IEEE SA) - (in person)