Spain has been one of the first European countries to deploy 5G. By autumn 2020, all four national mobile operators – Telefónica, Orange, Vodafone and MásMóvil – had launched their first 5G services. While Telefónica deployed its network nationwide, promising to cover 75% of the population by the end of 2020, the other three operators started their rollout in major cities. Spain’s rollout is far from being functional, however, with coverage of only around 30% and frequency bands between 3.4 and 3.8 GHz.
To facilitate the rollout, Spain opened the door for operators to use Huawei technology by granting a CC EAL4+ Security Certificate, which is a security clearance for a 5G base station. This enables the Chinese company to provide wireless services within a completely safe framework, and both Vodafone and Telefónica are planning on using Huawei equipment.
Alongside this, the Swedish company Ericsson delivers MIMO and the Finnish Nokia supplies radio technology for Telefónica.
According to the 'Europe 5G Readiness Index' (Incite), Spain ranks first in infrastructure and technology. The country aims to deploy ultra-fast networks and to provide efficient radio spectrum management. In rural, remote, or dispersed areas, the country plans on using a mixture of private and public corporations. At the international level, Spain is participating in international standardisation bodies to support standards for domestic business sectors.
However, there is still a struggle with regulations and policies. In line with the EU 5G Action Plan, Spain published its own 5G National Plan 2018-2020. This document states that the government should remove regulatory and administrative barriers, ensuring a dynamic and flexible use of the spectrum. Telecommunication laws will therefore need to be adjusted regarding the use of frequencies and the deployment of networks.
Number one in pilots
Furthermore, according to the 5G Readiness Index, Spain leads in terms of 5G pilots. The 5G Hub in Barcelona is a public-private partnership initiative that offers an experimental infrastructure to test, prototype, and implement digital solutions. The hub serves as a testbed for 13 pilot projects in 6 different industries, one of which is regarding agriculture.
In Albatàrrec, Catalonia, Vodafone antennas have been built on a nectarine farm to connect the field via 5G to improve agricultural productivity. The communication system allows farmers to individually analyse the productivity of zones and find the best cultivating strategy in real-time (Expert-on-Demand), as well as enabling the supervision of large numbers of operators.
Another project aims to support elderly people with a personal care robot. Through this application, the health status of the elderly who are living alone can be continuously and closely monitored. The robot is able to follow and communicate with those it is monitoring and then connect with health professionals when necessary.
A third project works on critical services, such as the management of fire extinguishing through drones. The drones are provided with cameras and thermographic sensors through which they can send clear images of the area. The application processes information for geo-localisation of both the fire and the firefighters at the same time. These real-time images would allow the effective management of emergency resources.