A lack of access to high-speed broadband services is pushing young people out of rural communities, it has been suggested.
Dr Stuart Burgess, Chairman of the Commission for Rural Communities, said a number of factors including poor web coverage, lack of transport links and social exclusion are drawing more people to urban centres.
He claimed that without improved broadband access, many countryside-based communities may struggle to survive in the long term.
"Without young people to provide a workforce, rural economies are unable to fulfil their full potential and can go into a decline," Dr Burgess stated.
A lack of fast broadband access is preventing many businesses from recruiting, and others from offering suitable training and development support, he added.
Dr Burgess claimed the government should make improving rural web services a priority as the national internet infrastructure is upgraded.
Earlier this week, Gareth Vaughan, President of the Farmers' Union of Wales, told the Western Mail that better broadband is needed urgently in rural parts of the principality.