martes, 8 de diciembre de 2020

Broadband in Zamora: the goal of getting rid of white zones

Broadband has become part of the reality of advanced societies (Broadband Society), especially with the emergence of new technologies and with the developments carried out in this field. Broadband and the type of technology varies according to the plan of telecommunications of each territory, since the characteristics of this are taken into account to know whether to establish one type or another.

Along the following article, in collaboration with Cristina Poyato Santiago, from UPF, we are going deeper into rural and most neglected areas of Spain, specifically we are going to focus in the province of Zamora, located in the autonomous community of Castilla y León. Zamora is known as a zone with a high level of depopulation, that is due to the large extension of the rural area, since a generous part of the province is made up of low-density locations.

(Map of the territory of Zamora. MICHELIN)

First of all, we are going to define some concepts that we are going to talk about, in order to make it easier to understand along the article. Starting with broadband, this is a service that offers data connection and the transmission of documents and files, whether you want to download or upload on certain devices such as mobile phones, computers and laptops, or televisions, for example. In the case that we are going to analyze, we will specify in the type of ADSL broadband. The ADSL (Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line) technology, is a technology that runs by cable and it is characterized by being asymmetrical, that is, it has a download speed different than the upload speed (10Mbps and 4Mbps, respectively). This technology of telecommunications allows the Internet connection and the transmission of files through the copper wires of the telephone line.

The ADSL in Spain has been a bit dated. In 1999, the first flat internet rate in the country was installed, and both the Ministry of Development and the Telefónica company, decided that it was through the ADSL. The total connections reached were near to 5,6 millions. But the ADSL technology arose many problems. Spain was offering a connection through ADSL which, in general, was much worse compared to the one offered in the rest of Europe, and what’s more, the efficiency was being affected according to the distance between the plant and the houses of the subscribers. According to Claudio Vega, editor at ADSLZone, “Spain has always had the slowest and most expensive ADSL of all Europe”. That is why, in 2005, Telefónica began the pilot tests of fiber optic that, nowadays, place Spain as the country with the largest fiber network to the home (FTTH) in Europe. Even so, not all the localities of the country have achieved this kind of technology (fiber optic), and that is the case we are going to deal with, the case of Zamora.

The province of Zamora has the ADSL as the most present technology in its homes, representing just over 80%, and instead, the fiber optic is almost 40%. In the rest of Castilla y León, in 2017, the 90% was reached. It should be noted that with the ADSL technology, the more speed, the worse connection, and that is why the most widely seen broadband in the province is the one that offers 2Mbps. This speed is a problem, since it only allows a basic activity, if we want a more professional and online use, more speed is necessary. In some zones of the territory, the speed increases to 10Mbps, this one represents the average necessary for a familiar use or for business; and speeds of 30Mbps and 100Mbps are found at, approximately, 55% and 44%, respectively.

It is worth noting that the access to technologies also varies depending on the number of habitants of each locality, so that in any population of Castilla y León with less than 1.000 habitants there is broadband with high speeds. Only the 1,3% of the municipalities with more than 2.000 habitants enjoy those kinds of speeds. As regards 4G mobile connection, it reaches all the largest municipalities, but in populations with less than 100 habitants it only reaches the 31,5% of the territory, according to the information collected by the journalist of Zamora News, Paco Colmenero.

In addition to the difficulties of connection and the low connection capacity, one of the greatest problems of the province of Zamora, is the existence of large white zones. Those zones are rural areas that don’t have digital connection and that also have low population density. In all Spain, there are only four provinces that have white zones, and three of them are inside the autonomous community of Castilla y León: Salamanca, Soria and Zamora; and the fourth is Teruel, which is located in the autonomous community of Aragon. The white zones in Zamora in larger towns (approximately 1.000 habitants) are, for example, Monfarracinos and Roales. In Zamora, today, approximately 2.196.000 houses don’t have a connection yet.

(Map of the white zones in Spain. AVANCE DIGITAL)

The province of Zamora is also characterized by the high number of autonomous workers (freelancers), who for their jobs need an Internet connection with coverage, possibly to be, 100%. That is why it is essential to increase the extension of the broadband and the speed of technology. In order to achieve these goals, 41 operators, from all over Spain, have committed to six projects that will work in the different regions that have deficiencies with the connection. The plan for Zamora is the ‘National Program of Extension of the Broadband of the New Generation’ (PEBA-NGA, according to the Spanish acronym), it is a project that has as a main objective to unite more than 130 centers of population to the broadband, and to achieve that by 2021 the 93,45% of the population has Internet connection with a speed of access higher than 100Mbps, a percentage that is currently standing at 81%.

This plan is going to be carried out with the investment of 27,5 millions in Castilla y León. And both, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the General State Budget (PGE) of Spain, are going to provide support to establish the fiber optic to the home (FTTH), but for private operators and not for city halls or councils. In addition, Francisco Requejo, the spokesman of the politic party of Ciudadanos and candidate for mayor of Zamora, has explained that he wants to meet with the operators “to give aid to entrepreneurs and companies”. This action plan is also due to the fact that Zamora is among the last of all the Spanish provinces in what refers to the broadband connection. And also, it is a province that has a lot of history and also great places to visit, and a lot of people go there to visit their families on holidays, and when they are in Zamora, they are still needing the connection to the Internet.

(The city of Zamora. TURISMOENZAMORA)

In conclusion, we can say that this plan is a fundamental tool for the demographic challenge and for the advancement of the inclusive society. In addition, it is important to achieve what is planned because, as Francisco Guarido, the mayor of Zamora has expressed, the future relations between administration and administrated "will be through the telematic routes". It is necessary to say that the lack of technology in the province was one of the reasons that impelled the inclusion of the plan in the agenda of the Ministry of Development, although there are certain rules of the European Union that hinder it. In addition, Zamora, as we have said, is characterized by being one of the largest unpopulated areas in Spain, next to Ourense, since, according to the Instituto Nacional de Estadística (INE), between 2016 and 2017, Zamora lost 3,002 habitants. As this is a difficulty for various activities such as: the creation of long-term employment plans, the establishment of businesses or the promotion of tourism; the best thing would be to help the growth of broadband and to establish a level and speed of the Internet suitable for the area to be repopulated again.

We analyze broadband and HbbTV evolution (here, the case of Zamora and Castilla and León) 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 CECABLEEscola Universitària Mediterrani of UdGUPF and Blanquerna-URL, in Twitter (@CECABLEresearch), 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 (2021, Barcelona).

11 comentarios:

  1. Un interesante y bonito artículo sobre una gran ciudad.

  2. La Sociedad de la Banda Ancha es imprescindible, y así lo muestra este interesante artículo. ¡Felicidades!

  3. Un article molt maco que demostra com depenem de la genial teoria científica del Dr. Fondevila sobre la Societat de la Banda Ampla!

  4. Un bon article JF! molta raó respecte a la necessitat de millorar l'internet i completament entendible que a causa d'una connexió insuficient hagin emigrat milers de persones. Avui dia la necessitat d'una bona connexió és esencial en qualsevol aspecte.