Slow Spain: this is how to live with connection speeds of the past decade

When Ángela (top image) goes to work in the center of Madrid every morning, she only understands immediately, fiber at 300 Mbps. Like in her apartment. But when he returns to the family home in The Navas of the Marquis, with 5,000 inhabitants and in Ávila, things change. “I’ve never managed to upload a video to YouTube from there, or leaving it for days. “Something that caused many headaches both in his time as a student of Audiovisual Communication and with his current work, where he produces and edits videos.

This problem is not caused by not hiring a higher speed. The problem is that your house is in one of the holes left by the map of Spain with high-speed network coverage. Or what is the same: on the map of slow Spain, which has to be resigned with speeds of the past decade … or even the previous one.

Slow Spain Map 2

Areas covered by speeds equal to or greater than 10 Mbps. Image: Government of Spain.


In Spain, according to the 2017 broadband coverage report, less than three out of four households have FTTH coverage. The best coverage is in Melilla -unica “autonomy” with 100% -, the Community of Madrid, the Basque Country and Ceuta. The worst, Cantabria, Castilla – La Mancha, Extremadura and Galicia, which barely exceeds 40%.

Of the almost 18 million Spanish households, only slightly more than ten have domestic Internet coverage equal to or greater than 2 Mbps download speed. The vast majority, in villages with 5,000 inhabitants down. In those of 500 or less, having this coverage is a matter of faith and luck. Good luck.

Slow Spain 001

Paula, from Huercal de Almería (17,000 inhabitants and in the province that gives the surname), also suffer headaches from this Internet of another era. “There are days in which I am a thousand hours to be able to get work done by how slow everything is going, and I even give more work to colleagues for falls at inopportune moments.” Paula, motor editor specialized in motorcycles, refers to moments like the one before a MotoGP race. The technical service, at least, is already better than that of previous times and responds quickly. It’s something.

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In some homes, Netflix is ​​a chimera. In others, teleworking is impossible. Everyone claims for the same thing: decent coverage.

Leisure is also a problem: “We cut the movies or series. And not to mention that I am working and my partner playing the PlayStation online, we are going to jump. To resign and pray to Thor to get the fiber, “he concludes.

We do not know if Thor can throw a cape in Huércal de Almería, but possibly ‘WiFi4EU’, an initiative of the European Commission that will make 120 million euros available to public entities for municipalities to enable WiFi connection points in ” places of interest”. From Spain it was requested that the destination be preferred for “less developed areas or with connectivity problems”, something that should translate into, above all, rural settings.


Miguel in the fields surrounding Berzosa.

There are some cases where the situation is more extreme. Especially, rural and aged municipalities. As Berzy, a hamlet of El Burgo de Osma, in Soria. One hundred inhabitants registered, 90% over the age of sixty. Miguel, a native of there but resident in Madrid, I would go much more often since I can telework, but not without the Internet. And there, simply, there isn’t. There is only 3G coverage of very low intensity. “It is only valid to receive WhatsApp messages and little else. And four years ago you had to get on a high concrete with the mobile to be able to call.”

Although the speeds are the same as we found satisfactory in the last decade, the Internet has little to do with the current one

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This is not just a problem for those who are and want the Internet. It is also for those who are and do not want Internet, but need someone else. “There are very old people who need someone to take care of him. Let’s see what young person you find who wants to move to a town without Internet to take care of an old man. They are leaving entire regions abandoned to their fate.”

In Valdealbín, a nearby town of just twenty inhabitants, the only option is to hire satellite Internet, more expensive than a standard fiber rate – about seventy euros a month – and a much lower speed. Raúl, a farmer in the quarantine, did it about seven years ago to gain access to banking, Social Security or CAP. “In the end nobody remembers us. Then they talk about depopulation, who will come to live in a town without Internet?”

A curiosity: in Valdealbín there is no mobile coverage, so everything works thanks to the WiFi network of that satellite Internet. Which causes a curious situation: in a town of twenty inhabitants, calls are made only by WhatsApp. “It is the only way to communicate,” says Raul, who heard something about the WiFi4EU initiative but without any commitment or arrival dates in Valdealbín.

If we go back to older cities we can also find similar problems. With the data from the same report we see that more than 10% of the population between 50,000 and 100,000 inhabitants – which adds up to almost six million people – has a connection speed of two megabytes or less, something that seems improper in cities like Girona , Santiago de Compostela, Pozuelo de Alarcón or Benidorm. Not even they get rid of having areas of that slow Spain.

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Featured Image | Angela White

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