The European Commission has given the green light to Spain’s plan to invest 680 million euros in public aid from the recovery fund for the use of 5G technology network equipment and infrastructure in rural areas of the country, the institution said in a statement.
The objective of the program is to guarantee users in “underserved” areas wide availability of high-performance networks that provide “reliable, high-quality electronic communications access services that meet their current and future needs.”
5G autonomous networks
The aid will be aimed at Spanish areas with a population of less than 10,000 inhabitants that lack current or planned investments in 4G networks with download speeds of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbps).
The autonomous 5G networks deployed with these European grants will support the offer of “innovative services” in these areas in the environment such as digital health, smart agriculture, digitized industry, autonomous driving or online cloud services.
To this end, transfers from the European fund will finance the installation of equipment and infrastructure and the provision of autonomous 5G mobile broadband services with upload and download speeds of at least 100 Mbps and 5 Mbps, respectively.
Public support will take the form of direct subsidies to telecommunications operators and the aid may be granted until December 31, 2025, with the aim that 5G mobile networks come into operation “by February 2026 at the latest”. The maximum amount will be the equivalent of 90% of the eligible costs per beneficiary.
In its analysis, the European Commission concluded that the public aid regime is “necessary and appropriate” to “rectify a market failure” such as the “absence of high-performance mobile communications networks in remote or sparsely populated regions”.
On the other hand, the Community Executive valued that this aid plan has an “incentive effect”, in the sense that “it will facilitate the use of equipment and infrastructures that private operators have not deployed nor are they going to deploy.”
Finally, Brussels considers that it includes “necessary safeguards” to “guarantee that undue distortions of competition are limited and that the aid does not alter the conditions of commercial exchanges in a way contrary to the common interest”, especially through a pro “open, transparent and non-discriminatory” selection process for beneficiaries.