Spain’s plan to bring FTTH and 5G to its entire population

The Spanish government has announced further details of the plan to bring broadband at speeds of at least 100Mbps and 5G to the entire Spanish population.  The Plan for Connectivity and Digital Infrastructures and the Strategy to Promote 5G Technology, part of the government’s Spain Digital 2025 Agenda, will receive EUR 4.3 billion of public funding for expanding fiber-optic infrastructure to underserved areas and extending 5G coverage. In a short statement, the government said EUR 883 million is already in the 2021 budget, which should receive parliamentary approval in the next few weeks.

The government added that it expects operators to invest around EUR 24 billion on rolling out FTTH (Fiber To The Home) and 5G technology within the same time frame. “The goal is for everyone, irrespective of where they live, to enjoy the benefits of these advances in connectivity under a plan that is of particular relevance to rural Spain,” said government spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero.

Spain plan

Fiber optic coverage currently stands at 46% of the Spanish population, double the European average,   84% of Spain’s population can currently access speeds of 100Mbps, a figure the government expects to increase to 91% by the end of 2021.

The Plan for Connectivity and Digital Infrastructures has three main objectives:

  1. Use broadband as something to favor the territorial structuring of Spain, promoting the deployment of broadband in urban centers and depopulated areas, so that the 100% of the population of Spain have access to at least 100 Mbps speed. Currently, this speed reaches 84% ​​of the population, and by the end of 2021 it is estimated that it will reach 91% of the population. Fiber optic coverage in rural areas now reaches 46% of the population, doubling the European average and well above countries such as France (12%), Germany (6%) or the United Kingdom (6%). However, there is still a long way to go.
  2. 100% of the industrial estates in Spain have a scalable connection to at least 1 Gbps in 2025.  The plan includes all the actions to strengthen connectivity associated with business environments: industrial estates, logistics centers or business parks. The goal is for 100% of industrial estates to have a connection scalable to one gigabit per second by 2025, one of the objectives of the European strategy “the Gigabit Society.”
  3. For Spain to become a European data hub, being a center for cloud services and interconnection with satellite networks. The plan includes the measures aimed at improving the connectivity of cross-border digital infrastructures and promoting participation in European programs of common interest (IPCEI) that will be executed in the period 2021-2027, such as the industrial alliance for cloud services and the secure communications satellite system, both necessary to cement European digital sovereignty and the growth of the national technology industry.

In addition, the 5G technology push strategy aims to complement fiber optics. Spain is leading the 5G pre-commercial pilot experiences in the EU, being the second European country with the most cities with 5G (39 already), only behind the United Kingdom.  Spain’s government wants to expand 5G access to cover at least 75% of the population by 2025.   This plan will seek to facilitate the availability of bands for 5G services, where that of 3.5 GHz is already available and that of 700 MHz will soon be in March 2021. It is also aimed at ensuring that there is not a single cutoff of 5G service coverage on major roads, railways or airports.

For this, new aid will be enabled for the deployment of 5G infrastructures. A regulatory and administrative framework will also be created that encourages investments, in addition to creating a safe and reliable environment for the deployment of networks and the establishment of companies.

Cybersecurity Law must transpose into the Spanish legal system the instruments and measures (toolbox) that the Member States of the European Union agreed upon at the beginning of this year in order to mitigate security risks in 5G networks and create a secure and reliable environment that drives deployment and fosters adoption.




8 thoughts on “Spain’s plan to bring FTTH and 5G to its entire population

  1. Good plan to promote a new production model in Spain and with a great multiplier effect on the economy

  2. I live in a rural area and have to use my phone as a WiFi hot spot (which is none too good). I have a small farm and electrical advisory business for companies globally and do work on the internet a lot. I have several questions:

    1. How can I get fibre optic Internet access?
    2. How much will it cost me? and ……
    3. Do you have to apply (if yes to who and how)?

    1. Hello Tony, I edited then posted your comment. However, please be aware that the IEEE Techblog is NOT a social media or community website where you can get answers to your questions. Furthermore, comments should be related to the content of the article you’re commenting on, in this case Spain’s effort to bring FTTH and 5G to its entire population.

      Also, you didn’t state where you live, which will determine fiber access availability. I suggest you redirect your questions to telecom carriers that serve the area you live in. Good luck!

  3. FT-Europe needs a more robust optical fibre supply chain, says Corning chief:

    The head of the world’s biggest producer of fibre optic cable said the EU needs a “much more resilient and self-sufficient” supply chain to tackle a tight market as the rollout of 5G and rapid growth in data centres drives soaring demand for the crucial material.

    “You don’t really have a robust supply chain here in Europe,” said Wendell Weeks, chief executive of Corning, in an interview with the Financial Times.

    “The global supply chain is not what we thought it was and manufacturers like us need to take on the responsibility of producing closer to our customers.”

    On Thursday, the US-based company opened one of the biggest fibre plants in the world in Poland, which aims to meet 30 per cent of demand in Europe over the coming year.

    Optical fibre is made of glass as thin as a human hair. Once produced, the fibre is often sent to cable manufacturers who wrap it in a plastic coating and protective tubing for use in telecoms networks.

    European cable manufacturers currently import more than half of their fibre from Asia and North America.

    Demand for the material has surged over the past three years driven by the rollout of 5G infrastructure, which requires around 100 times more fibre than existing networks. Meanwhile, tech companies such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft have pumped billions into expanding their data centre estates, including laying huge international fibre networks under the ocean.

    Europe and North America still lag behind Asia in terms of the scale of fibre rollout. Only a third of households in Europe currently have a fibre connection, compared with more than 90 per cent in China.

    “It’s not so much that the price is a significant issue for our customers. The issue primarily is supply,” Weeks said.

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    However, an executive at Prysmian Group, currently Europe’s largest fibre producer, contested the view that there was a significant shortage in the continent, arguing there was only a temporary tightness in the market caused in large part by higher input costs.

    “The fibre supply chain is tight but I don’t see any shortage,” said Philippe Vanhille, executive vice-president of telecoms at the Italian group.

    Vanhille added that Europe was viewed as a “paradise for business”, with the UK, Germany and Italy currently seen as particularly attractive markets to sell to because they had lagged behind European peers in updating their network infrastructure and were now massively accelerating their fibre rollout.

    The price of fibre has decreased precipitously over the past decade. However, it has increased again in Europe this year, driven in part by shortages of some crucial components, including helium, octamethyl and silicon metals.

    According to industry data provider Cru Group, prices in Europe have risen to €6.5 per fibre/km from record lows of €3 in January 2021. “Prices in Europe continue to be supported by tight availability and elevated production costs,” they wrote in a note.

    Fibre accounts for between 5 and 20 per cent of the cost of building a terrestrial network.

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