The Secretary of State for Telecommunications analyzes the contributions of the European Commission and the public consultation to see if it applies changes.
The government is working on the definitive drafting of the UNICO-5G Redes program, with which it wants to bring the latest generation mobile telephony to those areas of Spain where there is currently insufficient 4G coverage. All this with the aim of being able to launch the first call, endowed with a budget of 150 million euros, in the first quarter of 2022.
The program is now in its final drafting phase after last week the European Commission (EC) gave its approval to the granting of direct aid for the deployment of passive infrastructures for the provision of mobile communications services.
According to sources from the Secretary of State for Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructures to EL ESPAÑOL – Invertia, the intention is that the call launch within the first three months of 2022although they detail that it will not be something immediate after the return of the Christmas holidays.
Precisely it is being valued at the moment if it is necessary change some of the initial approaches that had been set for the program that the Secretary of State led by Roberto Sánchez submitted to public consultation last summer.
In this analysis, both the contributions made in said public consultation and the considerations provided by Brussels are being taken into account, since these aids I know fully financed through the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism.
All investments and reforms that involve some form of state aid included in the national recovery plans presented by the countries must be notified to the Commission for prior approvalunless they fall under one of the block exemption rules already identified.
In this case, after analyzing the Spanish proposal for the call for the UNICO Program – 5G Redes, the EC has concluded that the designed regime, which will be in force until December 31, 2025conforms to the rules of the European Union (EU) on state aid.
Specifically, understand that the measure will facilitate the development of an economic activity, is necessary and proportionate and has sufficient safeguards to ensure that the aid limits undue distortions of competition. In addition, it does not alter the conditions of the exchanges against the common interest.
In particular, it highlights that this aid cannot be used to meet the coverage obligations linked to the rights to use the mobile spectrum. Municipalities with more than 10,000 inhabitants are excluded from the regimeas well as the areas in which the deployment of mobile networks is already underway or is planned during the next three years.
UNICO 5G – Redes is one of the two initiatives launched within the framework of the Program for the Universalization of Digital Infrastructures for Cohesion (UNICO), in which the different calls aimed at facilitating the universalization of access to ultra-fast broadband and the extension of 5G throughout the territory are included
Specifically, it will finance the deployment of passive infrastructures for mobile communications services that guarantee minimum speeds of 30 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload in areas of Spain where there is currently no 4G mobile coverage with minimum speeds of 10 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload
Passive 4G/5G infrastructures are physical infrastructures to support mobile communications networkssuch as towers, masts or poles, conduits, energy supply systems or connection networks to public energy networks or infrastructure protection elements and systems.
The The objective of these grants is to address the digital divide in Spainstimulate interest in living and investing in rural areas, stimulate economic growth, as well as preserve and create new jobs in the most structurally fragile regions.
Speaking to EL ESPAÑOL – Invertia, Blanca Ceña, general director of Vantage Towers in Spain, has assured that the authorization of state aid “was key to ensure the viability of Unico5G”, and thus take advantage of the opportunity provided by the funds to be able to provide mobile digital connectivity to the inhabitants of Spain who did not yet have it.
In this sense, he has assured that this is an “essential step” to be able to effectively combat the depopulation of those areas of Spain and contribute to changing the ’empty Spain’ for the ‘connected Spain’. In this way, they ensure that “they are not left out of the possibilities” that 5G will bring to society and to the development of the productive fabric.