The paper examines the role and function of public–private interplay in the development of municipal initiatives in the broadband sector. The analysis of initiatives in the Netherlands and Italy shows how the interaction between public and private stakeholders can facilitate local broadband initiatives. This interaction has been vital in aligning the interests of different private and (semi-)public parties, in designing the network and in aggregating sufficient demand for broadband services. The comparative analysis examines the steps involved in these initiatives and the strengths and weaknesses of joint public–private activities. The paper shows that the challenge for cooperating stakeholders has been to foster further investment in the upgrading of the network and in the provision of advanced broadband services.