Connectivity in rural and remote parts of Spain

Digital transformation isn’t an empty concept. Connecting people, public bodies, companies, cities, countries, and more represents the possibility of achieving social development milestones we couldn’t possibly have even imagined just 40 or 50 years ago. Above all, it represents the possibility of achieving new economic opportunities and initiatives capable of distributing wealth and well-being to all corners of society.


But not all corners are equally able to benefit from this connectivity. In Spain, many rural areas still face challenges in terms of digitalisation and bringing new networks into service to help people access the Internet, as well as the fast and efficient communication opportunities people in other parts of the world more or less take for granted.



New wireless options helping to overcome connectivity challenges

The main obstacles in these areas – mostly in rural spots – stem from natural geographic conditions, costs and a lack of previous infrastructure on which improvements and upgrades can be built. Some communities, localities and towns are found in places with highly complex terrain, or else separated by great distances with insurmountable obstacles in between, such as mountain ranges, ridges, rivers, etc. The costs of developing ground-based infrastructure from scratch to provide efficient connectivity can often be prohibitive.


That’s why the most promising options in this regard are those that take advantage of wireless connectivity, meaning 5G and satellite connectivity, but particularly the latter. Using an individual, simple and cost-effective installation, satellite signal reception points can provide sufficient bandwidth, with low latency and no coverage interruptions, regardless of the geographic conditions, as the signal comes from satellites orbiting above the Earth.



Government support

.  However beneficial wireless connectivity may be – in whatever form it arrives – efforts and large-scale public and private engagement still need to be coordinated. Spain’s UNICO rural development programme, which has been allocated more than €76 million in funding, aims to ensure that the entirety of Spain’s landmass has access to connectivity of at least 100Mbps and a monthly cost for users of around €35. 


Recently, a company called Eurona, working in collaboration with Hispasat, launched a scheme that aims to make satellite connectivity possible  for 80% of families (mainly living in rural areas) who have applied to benefit from this government initiative. At the same time, they’ve developed strategic alliances with other companies working in the telecommunications and technology sectors, including Phone House, Audax, Galp and PC Componentes, to name just a few.



Local networks and collaboration

. Because connectivity in rural Spain won’t be possible with just the government and big operators alone, partnership agreements with small and medium-sized enterprises operating in various sectors – but especially in ICT – will be crucial to the success of Spain’s ambitious connectivity plans for 100% coverage by 2026.


Recently, specialist firm Praxedo produced a report in which they analysed the key role to be played by local operators in developing rural telecommunications. The report explains how the main challenge lies in effective collaboration between these operators and the public sector, especially with regard to the speed of deployment of the necessary infrastructure.



Nonstop innovation in connectivity

While the ultimate goal is to achieve better wireless telecommunications networks in rural areas, national and local governments need to keep a constant eye on innovation. This means not letting another technology gap emerge once better connectivity has finally been achieved, specifically in terms of outdated equipment, given technological development never stops.


And the next step in wireless connectivity is already on the horizon with 6G. At the same time, artificial intelligence will soon become the backbone of countless technological improvements in a very short space of time, as well as in developing new ecosystems altogether, such as augmented reality and virtual reality.

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