The shortage of disaggregated statistics has traditionally limited our comprehension of the digital divide. This work, by using new Municipality-level data, analyzes the coverage of fixed broadband networks before the start of the national public plans called to solve the infrastructural digital divide. The comparative analysis is focused on Marche - a small highly rural region, but at the same time with a strong manufacturing vocation. First of all, it emerges that the digital divide of Marche and Central Italy was higher than the national average. Furthermore, the most affected territories were the most rural ones, and private investors appear to have targeted the areas with the highest market potential, more accessible and generally less problematic to develop. All in all, these evidences confirm the need for a robust plan of public intervention to solve the failures the market encounters in promoting the knowledge economy and the digital inclusion - also in the current transition to next-generation networks (Nga).
Keywords: Broadband, Coverage, Potential Market, Rurality, Municipalities, Marche, Central Italy