Teleworking challenges rural Spain

The idea looked beautiful on television. Two young people from the city left their good jobs behind to start a business between Arribes del Duero and the Zamora region of Sayago. All of this idealized in an area that suffers from the evils of a ‘Spain emptied’ trapped in the digital divide, and in which videoconferences and virtual classes continue to be banned. In this era of pandemic, in which Teleworking has become the ‘new normal’ and it seems to be here to stay, not only does it take heart to go to town to develop a remote work activity, you also need a quality internet connection.

And it is that Broadband in these territories is currently clearly unequal. And, although many are already thinking about 5G networks, there are still those who do not even have coverage in some corners no matter how much they climb to the top of their town. The opportunity against depopulation is enormous but currently the people, at least many, cannot assume it.

According to the latest 2019 report from the Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructures, 13.4% of the population in rural areas lacks access to broadband greater than 30 megabytes. The Spanish telecommunications company Eurona states that there are still about 1.8 million orphan homes with a minimum connection speed of 2Mbps.

To improve this drawback, andAt the end of June, the Government authorized an amount of 150 million euros in aid from the European Union, in order to deploy ultra-fast networks in rural and less populated areas. The idea is that 93% of the population has a minimum connection of 300 megabytes to the Internet.

A study carried out by researchers from the Polytechnic University of Madrid within the framework of the European Smart rural analysis shows that Spain is one of the countries with the worst level of internet connection in its rural areas, receiving a “bad” rating, similar to Bulgaria, Cyprus, Lithuania, Croatia and Latvia. These data are intensified even more in the current context of the health crisis, where cyberspace is much more important.

Doubts about the regions

In relation to this, Viasat, a global telecommunications company, has carried out a study in Spain to analyze the habits of Spaniards in relation to the internet, as well as the impact that the pandemic has had on their daily use. Specifically, seven out of ten respondents indicated that they prefer a quality network for teleworking, and 72% were convinced that rural regions are not prepared for teleworking.

The solution that many citizens in rural areas where broadband or fiber does not reach is turning to satellite technology. “The only thing you need to operate is access to the sky,” explains José Padilla, director of operations at Viasat.

To reduce this digital gap, Telefónica Empresas and the Galgus firm have already joined forces. This link will serve to connect more than 250,000 people from around thirty towns in Andalusia, Aragon, Asturias, the Balearic Islands, Castilla y León, Extremadura and Galicia, under the project launched by the European Union called WiFi4EU.

“In rural areas or with worse fixed or mobile network coverage, it is a challenge to provide a solution,” explain José Antonio Morán and Carlos Monzo, directors of the Telecommunications Technologies and Services Engineering degree and the university master’s degree in Telecommunications Engineering. from the UOC. To get to these places, fiber optics are vital, experts point out, since, without it, 5G technology cannot be developed. Taking into account that telecommunications influence the society of the future, it is advisable to work to ensure that it can reach all areas of the country, choosing for each case the best technology to provide service and also energizing the so-called ‘Empty Spain’, they say. “If we want to generate wealth in rural areas, we must encourage high-performance telecommunications networks to progressively reach all places,” they say, and they mark the ideal infrastructures to develop the “industry of the future” as “keys” to success. ».

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