In the race to embrace 5G, Spain just took a big leap forward.
Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica on Tuesday (Sept. 1) flipped the switch on its new, national 5G network.
The next generation in mobile technology, 5G will be available to 75 percent of Spain’s population this year, offering rapid download speeds and support for smart devices and factories, the company said in a press release.
“5G will bring huge benefits for Spain,” said Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete, Telefonica’s chairman, in a statement. “This is a golden opportunity for our country to lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
Telefonica’s big announcement comes as the governments across Europe and the United States scramble to catch up with 5G leader China, which has built an early lead in rolling out the new mobile technology.
In an interview with Karen Webster, Paul Scanlan, chief technology officer of Huawei, noted that China has been able to roll out 5G more rapidly than other major countries, launching the new, high-speed mobile network in 50 cities across the People’s Republic last year alone.
Back in Spain, Telefonica said the rollout of 5G will happen in tandem with the retirement of older networks and infrastructure.
By 2025, the entire network of copper wiring will be replaced by fiber, Telefonica said, adding it will then shut down the country’s 3G network.
The 5G rollout comes just a little over a year after Telefonica’s Alvarez-Pallete unveiled plans for the “complete digitalization” of Spain.
“It’s 5G for everyone, without any exceptions,” Alvarez-Pallete said. “In all the autonomous communities. Telefónica will accelerate the digitisation of [small and medium-sized businesses], the public administrations and the general public with this initiative. “
Meanwhile, both everyday consumers and businesses as well will notice a major upgrade in their mobile and internet capabilities, the Madrid-based telecommunications company noted.
Consumers will be able to download films in seconds and watch sports with the benefit of a “360º experience.” Businesses, in turn, will be able to tap into greater computer capacity, as well as “5G private networks, mass IoT and critical communications,” Telefonica said.