The Government will launch aid for 5G in the first quarter of 2022 after the approval of Brussels

The Secretary of State for Telecommunications analyzes the contributions of the European Commission and the public consultation to see if it applies changes.

Image on the possibility of connection offered by the new 5G mobile technology

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.

direct aid

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.

UNIQUE 5G-Networks

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.

The Government extends one more year the aid of 400 euros to install broadband in rural areas

Red.es will allocate another five million euros in 2022 to the program to bring the Internet to Empty Spain with technologies such as satellite.

Satellite Internet of Eurona in the hut of the transhumant shepherds located in the mountain pass of Piedrahita and Pando, in Vidrieros (Palencia)

The Government, through the public entity Red.es, has extended the program for another year to grant direct aid of 400 euros to people residing in Emptied Spain for the installation of technologies of high-speed broadband access, mainly through satellite solutions.

Specifically, Red.es has assigned a budget of five million euros for the 2022 call, as published on Tuesday by the Official State Gazette (BOE). This amount is the same that was approved for the 2021 call for this program, launched three years ago.

Likewise, the maximum amount of aid that each applicant can receive has also remained unchanged. Specific, 400 euros will be awarded when the services are provided with satellite technology150 euros for wireless terrestrial technology and 50 euros for wired terrestrial technology.

As explained by Red.es to EL ESPAÑOL – Invertia, most of the aid, which financed through the Fund European Union for Regional Development (ERDF), corresponds to satellite connections.

The bases of the call contemplate that the subsidies will be used to cover expenses directly related to the registration of fixed broadband services by end users, regardless of the technology used, a minimum downstream data rate of 30 Mbit/s.

This service must be provided by an electronic communications operator adhered to the program and includes the acquisition of user equipment, its installation and commissioning.

The beneficiaries will be natural persons, the self-employed, SMEs, non-profit entities and municipalities residing in a locality with a population equal to or less than 5,000 inhabitants (Censused in their last register).

In addition, these locations must be located in areas of Spanish territory that do not have services that allow access to fixed broadbandwith any technology, at least at a downstream data rate of 10 Mbits per second and simultaneously have a delay of less than 100 milliseconds (ms).

The Government already covers 85% of the 2021 aid to bring the Internet to rural Spain with the satellite

More than 12,000 applications have already been granted and 4,000 are in process under this plan, which will be launched in 2022 for the fifth consecutive year.

One of the huts used by the shepherds, equipped with technology to receive satellite internet.

The direct aid of 400 euros granted by the Government for four years to install Internet access technologies in rural areas that are not reached by the fiber networkmainly through satellite solutions, have once again recorded a high level of demand in Empty Spain.

In November, applications accepted by the public entity Red.es, who is in charge of managing this program, already represented 85% of the budget assigned for this exercise. A high demand that has led the Government to extend this plan for another year.

According to the data to which EL ESPAÑOL-Invertia has had access, up to the penultimate month of the year a total of 12,045 applications for aid, with a total financial outlay of 4,243,127.13 euros.

This represents 84.9% of the budget of five million euros with which this program had in 2021. A figure that could increase at the end of this year, since there are currently 4,321 applications in process.

Likewise, the data show that throughout this year a total of 2,826 applications have been rejected, for not meeting the requirements to access this aid, and another 8,476 have withdrawn. The latter can resubmit the application once the errors have been corrected.

Average aid of 350 euros

The data also shows that the average amount of aid granted per application this year has risen to 352.3 eurosa figure lower than the maximum of 400 euros that each applicant can access.

This indicates that the aid that is actually granted to these inhabitants of Empty Spain without fiber coverage is more than enough to cover the costs of installing the necessary equipment to enjoy high-speed Internet.

The call contemplates that the subsidies must be used to cover expenses directly related to the registration of fixed broadband services by end users, to a minimum downstream data rate of 30 Mbit/s.

Although the program provides that this aid will be granted regardless of the technology used, in most cases the technology used by the people applying for the grant is the satellite.

Specifically, according to the bases of the program, up to 400 euros are granted when the services are provided with satellite technologyup to 150 euros for wireless terrestrial technology and up to 50 euros for wired terrestrial technology.

This service must be provided by an electronic communications operator adhered to the program and includes the acquisition of user equipment, its installation and commissioning.

Small towns and without Internet

The beneficiaries will be natural persons, the self-employed, SMEs, non-profit entities and municipalities residing in a locality with a population equal to or less than 5,000 inhabitants (Censused in their last register).

In addition, these locations must be located in areas of Spanish territory that do not have services that allow access to fixed broadbandwith any technology, at least at a downstream data rate of 10 Mbits per second and simultaneously have a delay of less than 100 milliseconds (ms).

The high demand that the program maintains in its fourth year of life, since these aids began to be granted in 2018, has led the Government to approve a new program for 2022 with the same amount of five million of euros.

These grants, that financed through the Fund European Union for Regional Development (ERDF), In this way, they will complete five years providing a high-speed Internet service to those areas of the country that are not reached by fiber with the aim of trying to put a stop to the digital divide.

The Spain Digital 2025 strategy has set itself the goal that the entire population of the country has access to digital connectivity of at least 100 Mbps in 2025and to this end an important part of public aid is being allocated to deploy fiber where it is not profitable for telecommunications operators.

The objective of the UNICO Plan is that the coverage of fiber networks with speeds greater than 100 Mbps reaches 95% of the population in 2023so it is assumed that there will always be a 5% of the population that is unfeasible to reach with this technology.

Alreadythere This is where alternative wireless connectivity systems come into play, such as satellite, which offer the same features at a competitive cost for customers and with a simple installation process.

In addition, these systems are not only used to bring high-speed Internet to places where fiber will never reach, but also can be used as a temporary method waiting for the cable deployments to arrive in the coming years.