MADRID – Over the past three years, Spain has made great strides in facilitating internet access for all its residents. Nevertheless, it will not be possible to achieve the European target for the entire population.
Every inhabitant of Europe must have access to an internet connection of at least 30 megabytes per second (Mbps). This is according to the European target. Spain is, in its own words, the country of fibre optics. According to Prime Minister Sánchez, Spain has installed more fibre than in Germany, France, the UK and Italy combined.
This was also apparent at the beginning of the pandemic. The Spanish networks could effortlessly cope with the enormous demand for capacity that came with working from home. At the same time, other European countries had problems.
Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards still without an internet connection
Despite the many fibre optic connections, a report by the Spanish General Union of Workers (UGT) shows there are still half a million people in Spain who cannot get a connection of at least 30 Mbps. And more than 380,000 Spaniards do not have access to high-speed internet (minimum 100 Mbps).
Digital Agenda 2010
In 2010, the European Commission adopted a Digital Agenda. This strategy, drawn up by European Commissioner Neelie Kroes, aimed to make Europe more digitally capable. Among other things, it had to ensure by 2020 every European should have access to a 30 Mbps internet connection. Also with 50% of households to have a 100 Mbps internet connection.
According to the report of the Spanish trade union, Spain does not meet the target this year. At the same time, the union emphasises how necessary internet connection of at least 100 Mbps is for digital life. Not only is it necessary during this pandemic, but ‘with this speed, you can work decently at home because it can handle several video calls at the same time or a streaming service next to it.’
No coverage in the countryside
The UGT report is based on figures from the survey ‘Broadband coverage in Spain 2020’ conducted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation. These figures show that 10% of the Spanish population lives in rural areas where the minimum coverage of 30 Mbps requested by the EU cannot be achieved. The union also discovered that there are still about 45,000 Spaniards who have no access to broadband internet at all and at the same time no good mobile coverage (a coverage of less than 85%). According to the union, this is a group with a ‘great digital vulnerability’ that has only increased during this pandemic.
More than half of these digitally vulnerable residents are in Castile and León (particularly in León). This is followed by 5,000 in Catalonia and 3,500 in Andalucia. The remaining 16,000 are spread across the rest of the country, except in Madrid and the Balearic Islands. These are the only two regions where 100% of residents have internet access and good mobile coverage.