During the past Datacenter Dynamics, I had the opportunity to participate in a round table on the theme: Madrid, new European data center hub? Challenges and opportunities.
Obviously in a round table shared with five more people, we didn’t have time to develop some topics. In one of my speeches I said: “Madrid is in the focus of the big operators and if the necessary infrastructure is generated, it will allow us to be much more competitive and provide higher quality services”.
I would like to develop a little the importance of fiber optic networks in the future of any country’s economy.
On June 8th, José María Álvarez Pallete, Chairman of Telefónica, said at its Shareholders’ Meeting: “Spain is facing an historic opportunity, since the digital revolution coincides with a time when Spain is a leader in the deployment of optical fiber”. And I agree with him and I must say that Telefónica is doing very well in this area and it is something that he bet on years ago and that he dragged his competitors to make deployments as well.
Telefónica currently reaches 21 million homes and plans to cover 100% by 2023, with the consequent shutdown of its copper plants. This is unprecedented in Europe where, in 2019 alone, telecoms will have to invest 60,000 million euros in fiber optic networks.
This inverse fever is not only produced in Europe. In the United States an investment of between 130 and 150 billion dollars is expected over the next five years. And by the way, a great surprise that I have taken by my interest in this subject is that Google, through its subsidiary Google Fiber has deployed 22,000 km of fiber in the United States.
On the other hand, it is usual to invest in a consortium of Google, Facebook and Microsoft with different actors in submarine cable networks. In Spain, Microsoft and Facebook joined Telxius to launch MAREA, which links Virginia (USA) and Derio. Google builds alone between Virginia and France, and between Los Angeles and Chile, to give two examples. Since 2010, Facebook has participated in at least 6 of the new submarine cable projects and Google in 13. That is, fiber optic networks are tremendously important and that is why so much money is being put into it.
Much of this path has been traveled in Spain by the aforementioned deployment and the arrival of three new submarine cables to the Iberian Peninsula that connect us to North America, South America and Africa, in addition to the land connection to Europe.
The importance of connectivity
Everyone nowadays talks about 5G, but let’s not fool ourselves for the correct deployment and operation of 5G, it is essential to have fast fiber optic networks that must be as close as possible to the end customer. They are necessary to support the data traffic of hundreds of thousands of new 5G access points due to the densification required by this technology. If we don’t have this traffic capacity, we can’t talk about the opportunities offered by IoT. I am not going to talk about the opportunities that IoT gives rise to and consequently the digital transformation of processes and organizations, because it gives to write a book.
Research is underway on how to improve connectivity through other types of deployments. Space X, the company of the famous Elon Musk, is studying the use of small satellites for it, Facebook tried with large drones powered by solar panels but was a fiasco by an accident of one of its prototypes and Google is investing in the Loon Project that uses balloons at the limit of the stratosphere to transmit data by laser, which improves latency. The truth is that I am amazed by the initiative and originality of these American companies. I leave you a link that shows you the Loon Project. https://youtu.be/MiEZfRh-h-s
But of course, obviously this window of opportunity has an expiration date, which is none other than the day when the countries around us have a similar fiber deployment. And frankly I don’t see the Spanish political class worried about this issue, in fact, I intuit that they don’t even know that this opportunity exists. They should encourage investment by technology companies, and make Spain’s competitive advantages known to the world at this time.
Meanwhile, we will endure another four years hearing that Spain has to change its economic model and not depend on tourism and construction. But nobody does anything to change it!
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