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Spain’s big three mull joint effort to secure EU recovery funding

News

There are reports in the Spanish media that Orange, Telefónica and Vodafone are thrashing out possible joint submissions.

It seems Spain’s three largest operators are engaged in talks for joint infrastructure proposals to submit to Ministry of Economic Affairs, which will be responsible for allocating funding from the EC’s €1.8 trillion pandemic recovery plan.

Mobile focus

Reports say the focus would be on building out mobile coverage, rather than focusing on fixed connections: Spain has the most advanced fibre infrastructure of any large European country with 54.3% FTTH/B penetration, as of September 2019, according to the FTTH Council Europe.

Apparently the three are exploring the idea of dividing Spain into three zones with one operator assuming responsibility for developing mobile infrastructure in each area.

The government has already established targets of providing the entire population with connectivity of at least 30Mbps by 2023 and 100Mbps by 2025.

Funding rules

The EC stipulated 20% of the funding provided for recovery should be used for digital projects, including infrastructure.

Spain could be allocated €4.3 billion from the fund for network deployment between 2021 and 2025, starting with €900 million budgeted for this year.

The operators will have to show their joint or separate hands soon: the deadline for submitting expressions of interest as a first step to be considered for funding is 15 February.

Operators can submit more than one suggestion for funding, which means they could also go it alone. If a sole submission were accepted, it would be subsidised by the state to the tune of 50 to 70% of the cost. Another option might be for the state to own the infrastructure.