Remote work: the Spanish villages with the best 5G and fiber optic connections | society
Teleworking became a lifeline for the world of work during the corona lockdown and the subsequent phases of restricted mobility. It has also changed the outlook for sparsely populated parts of rural Spain, popularly known as la EspaÃ±a vacÃa or “empty Spain”.
Remote workers need good internet connectivity and cellular coverage, requirements that have traditionally been harder to meet in remote, less populated locations. However, communities that have made online connectivity a priority have managed to attract a number of teleworkers over the past year. Now some of the most remote corners of Spain have high-speed fiber optic connection for every home, as well as 5G coverage, a luxury that the vast majority of European capitals would give anything for.
Here is a list of the 15 best connected villages with fewer than 2,000 inhabitants in Spain, according to telecommunications company TelefÃ³nica: Fresno de Sayago (Zamora), 170 inhabitants; Atrenzana de Abajo (La Rioja), 230 inhabitants; Casas de Don GÃ³mez (CÃ¡ceres), 289 inhabitants; Anguciana (La Rioja), 433 inhabitants; TÃ¡liga (Badajoz), 665 inhabitants; San Esteban del Valle (Ãvila), 720 inhabitants; Campezo (Ãlava) 1,040 inhabitants; Ainzon (Zaragoza), 1,077 inhabitants; Valverde del Majano (Segovia), 1,095 inhabitants; Casalarreina (La Rioja), 1,098 inhabitants; Agoncillo (La Rioja), 1,102 inhabitants; Santa MarÃa de la Alameda (Madrid), 1,254 inhabitants; Labastida (Ãlava), 1,454 inhabitants; Arcos (Burgos), 1,734 inhabitants and Buitrago de Lozoya (Madrid), 1,884 inhabitants.
Thanks to their high-speed connection, the residents of TÃ¡liga (Badajoz), a city with fewer than 700 inhabitants, can manage their prescriptions online as well as their doctor’s appointments or the paperwork from the health center, school or town hall. Like TÃ¡liga, a number of small Spanish towns have better cellular coverage, fiber connectivity and even 5G than other European countries like Italy, Germany, the UK and Poland, according to data from FTTH Council Europe.
âThe most important thing is that, thanks to good internet coverage, we can work from home and do a lot of things that used to take us twice as long as they could only be done by phone or in person,â says Vicente Mateos, Mayor of Casas de Don Gomez.
A high-speed link was also a godsend for Edorta Loma, who two years ago returned to his hometown of Santa Cruz de Campezo, a village of just over 1,000 people in the mountains of Ãlava in the Basque Country, for Arrea, a restaurant that specializes in local ingredients .
As connectivity improved over the past year, Spain saw a growing trend for city dwellers to move to more rural areas for their second homes and, due to the boom in both telecommuting and teleworking, far greater use of internet connections in homes. According to TelefÃ³nica data, traffic on Movistar’s IP network increased by 25% between January and December 2020.
In Buitrago de Lozoya, Madrid region, online traffic increased 167% between January 2020 and March 2021. And in the villages of Anguciana and Casalarreina, which are located in one of the first municipalities of La Rioja, the fiber optic connections for their The entire network was recorded above average, which is partly due to the influx of second home owners from the nearby Basque Country.
The 5G challenge
The mobile phone also plays a decisive role, because thanks to the new 5G generation of mobile communications, mobile Internet coverage is now comparable to the fixed network.
This is the ranking of the small towns with the best 5G connections: Hoz de Jaca (Huesca), 71 inhabitants; Navatejares (Avila), 80; Riu de Cerdanya (Lleida), 111; PrÃ¡dena de Rincon (Madrid), 127; San Miguel de Aguayo (Cantabria), 159; Sojuela (La Rioja), 227; Peraleda de San RomÃ¡n (CÃ¡ceres), 283; Arrieta (Vizcaya), 558; Ciruelos (Toledo), 679; and Monteagudo (Navarre), 1,145 inhabitants.
âThe planning of the network expansion takes into account certain traffic patterns that are repeated every year,â says Javier GutiÃ©rrez, Director of Network Strategy and Development at TelefÃ³nica Spain. “In 2020, these patterns deviated from the norm due to Covid-19 and there was an unusual increase in both voice and data usage.”
In September 2020, all four national operators in Spain – TelefÃ³nica, Orange, Vodafone and MÃ¡sMÃ³vil – launched their first commercial 5G services, but only in the largest cities, with reduced coverage (less than 30% of the population) and with very limited technical capacities .
Internet connections using 5G will be 100 times faster than they are today (although the technology currently only achieves average speeds of 10 times 4G). This makes data downloads even faster than with today’s fiber optic networks. To take an example, a 1GB movie will download in less than 10 seconds.
English version of Heather Galloway.