domingo, 1 de septiembre de 2019

Some keys for broadband in Spain

Like any other country in the world, Spain has its own broadband world that it’s important to know, especially if you’re Spanish or based in Spain. To understand Spain’s broadband system and the evolution of its Broadband Society, we have to take into account different things, and we analyze it in collaboration with Aina Velasco. 

First of all, we must know the biggest and most important providers. Movistar is, without any doubts, the biggest broadband provider of the whole country, and it’s owned by the telecommunications giant Telefonica. 
These providers is the biggest one in the Spanish market, as it has a share of over 40% and a customer base of over 22 million people. Another big enterprise that operates broadband is Vodafone, the second largest provider in the country. Then come Orange or Jazztel, smaller enterprises but still relevant in the broadband map of Spain.
All of them offer similar standard cable and fiber optic services, with speeds that range from 10 Mb to 300 Mb. Even that’s what’s advertised, the majority of time the users only get download speeds around 10 Mb on average, and the further they’re from the local exchange, the more time it will take and the slower the connection will be. Sometimes there’s also the option to purchase either symmetric or asymmetric connections: the symmetric broadband provides the users with the same upload and download speeds, supplying a faster and less interrupted service than the average connection packages.
Apart from the internet providers, the Spanish broadband has other characteristics to take into account. Spain is a relatively big country, with very different areas. Some of them have big cities, like the center of the country that has Madrid as the biggest cosmopolitan area, and other areas in the coastline with other big cities like Barcelona, Bilbao or Valencia. Other areas are more rural, with lesser cities and more towns or even villages, especially in the center of the peninsula. And the differences between these more rural areas and the more urban regions are pretty important: there’s a giant gap between the different territorial areas in Spain when talking about the broadband services.
In cable HFC for example, there’s a big imbalance between the different autonomous communities in the country: Euskadi, in the north, had a broadband coverage of 88% in 2017, while Extremadura had a broadband coverage of 4% also in 2017. There’s also a huge difference, not just between the autonomous communities, but between the different cities and towns. Municipalities with a population ranging from 100.000 to 500.000 had, as gathered in data from 2017, a broadband coverage of 82%, while municipalities with a population ranging from 2.000 to 5.000 had a coverage of 7,6%.
The same happens when we look at the FTTH data. When talking about the Fiber To The Home, differences are still huge. In Madrid for example, the capital of the country, the fiber coverage was, in 2017, in around 96% of the households, while in Galicia, in the northern part of Spain, the numbers dropped to 41%. When we look at the data around towns and cities, the numbers show similar differences in FTTH coverage: in places with a population over 500.000 the FTTH coverage was almost a 100%, while in places with around 2.000 habitants, the coverage was around 16,5%. Even though the differences in different households located around the country are pretty big, Spain is one ofthe European countries with more broadband connections at home or in mobile devices. So the problem is not in general in all the country, but in the differences between the different parts. On the other hand, when talking aboutthe prices, Spain gets in a “not so good” place in the list of European countries: in lots of countries, the coverage is much cheaper than in Spain.
In the wireless coverage department, the numbers are also quite different, but maybe not as alarming as the ones we’ve been seeing: the gap between autonomous communities is not that important but gets more relevant when we look at the differences between municipalities, as in some little towns barely gets to 50%.
The final, and probably the most distressing of all of these numbers that indicate the giant territorial gap in Spain is in the speed of the broadband coverage, depending of whether the user is living in a rural or in an urban area. Even more important than its difference in the technology, is the difference when talking about speed: almost 40 points in connections of 30 Mbps and 50 points in speeds of 100 Mbps or more. So, as some data from 2017 gathered, if the user lives in a rural area, he or she will have to accept having around 10 Mbps as a maximum in broadband speed if he or she is lucky. And we can all agree that this is an absolutely inefficient connections to access properly the internet.
This map below shows the broadband coverage of connections of 100 Mbps in Spain, being the darkest colors the places where there’re more 100 Mbps or more connections and the lightest colors the places where there’re less. We can see there’s a big correlation between the availability of this connection and whether the are is rural or not.
Facing this huge problem, last year the Spanish government decided to make a step forward in this department and start making changes. Since 2012, there’s been an annual tracing of the broadband coverage of the country, conducted by the SESIAD (Secretaria del Estado para la Sociedad de la Información y la Agenda Digital, an organism designed to work on the improvement of the levels of technological improvement in the country), that has helped in evaluating in the boosting of the telecommunications in Spain. But that has been demonstrated not to be enough, so the government decided that since the 21th of March of 2018, a new plan would be implemented: the 300x100 plan. This program pretended to bring 300 Mbps to all the municipalities of Spain, giving 95% of the population of every province the opportunity to use high-speed broadband services. So this plan, that’s been working for almost a year now, it’s expected to complete the deployment of fiber optics of all the different municipalities in the country, with special attention in the small villages and the rural areas that haven’t gotten much coverage since now.
Some data has shown big improvements in the reducing of this gap. Looking at the high-speed broadband coverage between the different territories for example, we get that some autonomous communities have increasedin more that 10 points in the coverage of 100 Mbps in the communities of Andalucía, Castilla-La Mancha, Aragón and Extremadura. Also very significant is the growth of 11 percentual points in the coverage of 100 Mbps in rural areas, that indicates a huge step forward in the reducing of the big gap that’s in the coverage distribution in the country.
Spain has, as we’ve seen, a very interesting and characteristic map of broadband connectivity. Even if there’s a lot to do to serve the Spanish users with better broadband coverage, especially the ones that live in rural areas, this coverage has improved in the last years and looks that it’s going to get even better.
We analyze broadband evolution (here, the Spanish case) in this blog, in Research Group about Digital Journalism and Marketing and Broadband and in Research Group on Innovative Monetization Systems of Digital Journalism, Marketing and Tourism (SIMPED), from CECABLE,  Escola Universitària Mediterrani of UdGUPF and Blanquerna-URL, in Twitter (@CECABLEresearch), Google+, in the group of LinkedIn, in the page of LinkedIn, in the group of Facebook, in Instagram (CECABLE), in Pinterest and in this blog. We will go in deep in the XXV Cable and Broadband Catalonia Congress (31 March-1 April 2020, Barcelona).

17 comentarios:

  1. La Sociedad de la Banda Ancha es imprescindible. Os felicito por vuestra enorme y constante tarea de análisis científico.

  2. Interessant article! Sense banda ampla els països no poden progressar.

  3. Todos dependemos en gran medida de la banda ancha. Gran tarea la vuestra.

  4. Un artículo muy interesante sobre la banda ancha y sus implicaciones.

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