Spain considers public funding for 5G backhaul

Spain has opened a consultation on the planned allocation of funding of up to €250 million for 5G fiber backhaul as part of its broader 5G coverage strategy.

The country is striving to cover 75% of the population by 2025 and as such is taking advantage of EU funding to help invest in infrastructure.

The 5G fiber backhaul project is part of its UNICO program – Universalización de Infraestructuras Digitales para la Cohesión, or Universalization of Digital Infrastructures for Cohesion –, through which it aims to ensure universal access to ultra-fast broadband and to extend the mobile 5G reach. . UNICO is part of the broader framework of the country’s post-Covid economic recovery plan.

This last component of the UNICO program concerns the provision of support for the deployment of fiber for the backhauling of 5G mobile sites. One of the main objectives of the consultation phase is to map the locations of mobile networks without fiber backhaul in municipalities with fewer than 20,000 inhabitants. The information collected will then be used to determine which areas of the country will be eligible to be part of the funding program. Essentially, the government is keen to see fiber backhaul deployed in small locations that might otherwise not meet operators’ investment criteria.

And it means letting the operators – as well as other interested parties, such as public administrations and the competition regulator CNMC, for example – have a say in setting the parameters. These parties have until July 18 to submit their thoughts.

Spain seems to be moving fairly quickly on its various telecom-related recovery plans. Earlier this month, he set out the terms of a €150 million funding scheme for 5G-related passive infrastructure, hoping to attract tower companies and telecom operators with towers to help boost national 5G coverage. In this part of the project, interested parties have until the end of July to submit their applications for a share of the funding for the venues which are to be built by the end of 2024… although there is a possibility of a six-month extension. .

For now, the bonding plan has no firm timetable, apart from the deadline for submission of comments on the consultation, but given Spain’s 5G coverage target in 2025, it is prudent. to assume the government won’t drag its feet on this one. .

Spain is something of a leader when it comes to fiber, with major operators having made a big push to deploy the technology in recent years. Spain ranks second in the FTTH Council’s European FTTH/B Household Table for EU39 and EU27 + UK, although it should be noted that the company dropped Russia from first, a decision that affected Spain’s position. 88.8% of homes in Spain are supplied with fiber, according to the Council.

This puts the country in a strong position to both identify and address base station sites that lack fiber backhaul…and of course to increase 5G coverage, which is its ultimate goal.