This paper presents a systematic review of 157 papers on digital developments and rural development in advanced countries. It focuses on the general conclusions, in order to better understand the potential impacts of the coming Next Generation Access revolution. We distinguish two major strands of research: connectivity research and inclusion research. In the connectivity theme, the conclusion is that there are persistent and growing differences in data infrastructure quality between urban and rural areas. Public policies to promote the availability or improvement of data infrastructure are essentially responsive, and rapidly outdated by market developments. For inclusion, the hampered diffusion of technologies, and the lower average levels of education and skills in rural areas have a negative impact on adoption and use. Generic policies in this field neglect specific local needs. The paradox is that rural communities are most in need of improved digital connectivity to compensate for their remoteness, but they are least connected and included. Future research should therefore focus on specific places and communities – combining both connectivity and inclusion issues – in order to inform ‘customized policies’ for poorly connected and digitally excluded rural communities.