Case Study By
H.E. Mr. Roberto Sánchez
Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructures, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Digital Transformation, Spain
State of Broadband 2021
The ideas and opinions expressed in this insight are those of the authors; they do not necessarily reflect those of ITU and UNESCO or the Broadband Commission. The mention of specific companies, products or services does not imply that they are endorsed or recommended by ITU or UNESCO or Broadband Commission in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned.
Connectivity infrastructures are at the cornerstones of the digital society. People’s lives, business activities, education, health and social services are highly dependent on the quality and the resilience of the digital networks. During the COVID-19 pandemic, in Spain we focus in keeping the country connected. Guaranteeing the continuity of services, not leaving anyone behind, preventing cuts, and preserving our lives already altered by the COVID-19 health crisis.Our department, the Secretariat for Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructures, reinforced the ordinary supervision activities to ensure that essential services were not disrupted. We adopted extraordinary regulatory measures to keep the connectivity service fully operational, and we signed an agreement with the telecommunication operators to guarantee connectivity for people and business within the recommendations framework established by health authorities. The pandemic has introduced changes that 64% of Spanish believe will remain. In 2008, only 18% of Spanish people considered that Internet was “essential” in their life; nowadays this percentage has risen to 60%. In fact, 90% use the Internet on a daily basis and one third affirms to be connected almost all day long. The most noted example is teleworking, which has almost doubled from 16% to 30%.
We must say that telecommunications infrastructures in Spain responded without incident to the unprecedented increase of the demand.Many of these changes will remain. The need for broadband extension, quality and adequate services to cover the demands of the society are now evident for all the population, and this issue is rising on the social agenda. Consequently, the policy agenda needs to focus on this challenge, including filling the gaps for those who do not have access, skill or affordability to be in the digital world. The new agenda, “Digital Spain 2025”, establishes resources and means to achieve the digital transformation that will lead us to a social wellbeing, more inclusive, resilient and cohesive. COVID-19 health crisis has established a new starting point in the digital transformation process, not only for the economy, but for the society as a whole. Digital networks allowed us to resist and now will pave the way for a sustainable growth. 5G technology, with its disruptive capacities will start a new generation of services, uses and tools for consumer and business, making us more resilient for future crisis.  Royal Decree-Law 8/2020, March 17th, urgent extraordinary measures to face the economic and social impact of COVID-19  “Attitudes before technology and ICT uses of Spanish society during COVID-19”,