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Netherlands' digital infrastructure delivers significant contribution to internet economy

Press release

The Netherlands one of the European frontrunners in fast-growing digital infrastructure sector

The Hague, 20 november 2014

Dit artikel in het Nederlands

The Netherlands is one of the leaders in the European digital infrastructure field. The Netherlands' digital infrastructure contributes significantly to our internet economy which in turn provides growth in employment. Those are the results of research done by Deloitte, commissioned by AMS-IX, DHPA, ECP, SIDN, NBIP, Nederland ICT, NLnet and Rabobank. The research is aimed specifically at the internet exchange, datacenter housing and hosting sector who — together with the telecommunication sector — comprise the digital infrastructure. Earlier research of Deloitte around this sector in 2013 already showed that the Netherlands has a strong digital infrastructure, which given the fast growth of the world wide internet should be considered as the third mainport of the country.


The importance of our digital infrastructure continues to grow. The Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX) remains the worlds largest internet exchange. In the last twelve months alone the internet traffic in this internet exchange grew by thirty percent. The Amsterdam region also holds on to its place as one of Europes prime hotspots for co-location (datacenters) with an annual growth of over six percent. In Europe the Netherlands also holds a strong second place where hosting services are concerned.

Impact on the Netherlands economy

The housing and hosting sector within the Netherlands' digital infrastructure is a capital intensive sector with an annual turnover over € 1,18 billion and investments of € 380 million. In this sector around 7.600 people work. Around 11.700 jobs are produced by sectors which are immediately involved, such as construction and suppliers, and from spending of employees. Employment grew with around eight percent per year.

Digital infrastructure as a fundament for digital economy

The number of jobs in the digital infrastructure sector itself may not be high in the absolute sense, but the sector has a strong influence in the much broader digital economy and society. The digital infrastructure is part of the whole ecosystem and one of the drivers for the internet economy. The Netherlands' internet economy is estimated at 5,3 percent of the GDP and annually grows with nine percent. The research indicated that the presence of a strong digital infrastructure is an important stimulus for the employment in e-commerce and cloud services.

In theory an internet economy could develop also independent from the local datacenters and hosting, as internet services could be hosted in other countries, says Michiel Steltman, director of DHPA. However our research shows that there is a strong correlation between the growth of the local internet economy and the presence of a strong national digital infrastructure sector. Steltman explains that this has to do with three mutually reinforcing effects:

  • the online sector and the digital infrastructure sector both profit from the same underlying growth factors
  • Demand effect: growth in the internet economy causes a growth in the demand for digital infrastructure
  • Supply effect: the presence of a strong digital infrastructure pulls in suppliers from online products and services to the Netherlands

The research indicates that a strong digital infrastructure contributes to growth of the digital economy as a whole. Countries with a strong digital infrastructure sector gain more economically from the resulting innovations and productivity growth.

Recommendations for the optimal use of the strong position in digital infrastructure

The researchers have formulated six recommendations to maintain the strong position of the Netherlands, make appropriate use of it and stimulate further economical growth:

  • Support investments and developments in the digital infrastructure. Dampeningon investments through additional national or European rules and regulations will have a negative impact on economical growth, because the sector is a direct stimulus for the internet economy and the digital society.
  • Stimulate the entire online ecosystem. Do not just stimulate the growth in digital infrastructure, but also the directly related sectors because these reinforce each others position.
  • In particular, stimulate innovations that depend on the Netherlands' digital infrastructure. Growth opportunities can be found in e-commerce, online services and by stimulating cloud innovations with Netherlands companies.
  • Stimulate the choice for the Netherlands as main residence for multinationals offering digital services. International competition is strong and the digital infrastructure is getting more important for the online activities of companies. By attracting foreign companies that make intensive use of our digital facilities, the Netherlands online ecosystem can be strenghtened.
  • Modernise the frameworks for rules and regulations, based on a broader vision. The scale and growth of the digital economy demands more modern and specific facilities, and can prevent unnecessary rules and regulations.
  • Make education fit better with the needs from the market. The fast growth of the digital economy and the impact it has on our whole society, demands a proactive approach to get the digital skills embedded in all aspects of education.

For the editors

The entire research report "Digital Infrastructure in the Netherlands — Driver for the Online Ecosystem’ is available on: