The race for the Catalonian Open Network starts now

This Thursday, March 25th, was the last day to apply for the competitive dialogue of the Open Network in Catalonia, “Xaxa Oberta”. As you remember from previous posts in this blog (Open Network in Catalonia and Further Explanation about the Open Network), the maximum number of participants that were allowed to access the competitive dialogue phase was fixed to 5. Today we can confirm that there will be three players that want to enter into the business of operating an open network in Catalonia. Those are:

  • Telefonica de España
  • Abertis Telecom
  • Mediapro in consortium with Axia

As you can see, the three participants are very different.

The first participant accomplishes all the requirements to obtain the project, but it seems that its business has never been to create an Open Network. Anyway, they are interested in the project, for good or bad reasons…

  • As far as we know, Telefonica is aiming to obtain the project because this way it is not going to loose all the councils, schools, hospitals, and all the public facilities that are going to be connected to this network. Nowadays the purpose of this network it is only to connect public buildings, but if the European union allows to offer this network to third party operators, then, it can happen that it becomes a real Open Network, and the operator then offers it at a competitive price to the others (and there is where the real business and interest of all operators is).
  • Abertis Telecom is an infrastructure operator located in Catalonia and has a lot of experience in operating all kind of infrastructures. They operate highways, radio and satellite links, garages and airports and distribute the TV stations.
  • The third one is Mediapro in consortium with the Canadian Axia NetMedia Corporation. Axia is the most experienced player in what we call Open Networks. We can see that they are now operating a similar network in Alberta, and that are also operating fibre networks in France and Singapore.

The keys to succeed in this project are going to be:

  • Accept that an operator is going to receive a concession of the network from a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of 30. This means that choose one of those three participants is not going to be easy and will mean to transfer most of the fiber backbone to a third party  for nearly 30 years.
  • If Telefonica loses the project, it is going to experience something that has never happened in Spain, which is that someone else will be able to compete against Telefonica in a real competitive situation, with a parallel infrastructure that can offer the same or even more bandwidth than Telefonica’s network.
  • The European Union must accept that this network can be offered as a wholesale service to other carriers, because if it is only accepted as a governmental network, the operator that rules it will have as unique client: the local government, and the possible business will be dramatically decreased.
  • If Abertis or Mediapro-Axia gets the tender, we will have a very interesting and competitive market to develop projects and the entire broadband scenario will dramatically change.

We will follow the process of the creation of the GIT, which is the entity that will become the operator of the Catalan Network, but first it will also be in charge of managing its installation.


4 thoughts on “The race for the Catalonian Open Network starts now

  1. They are arguing that this is not state aid, because they try to explain the network as an internal governmental service, not industry or homes reached in the initial phase. But once you have it deployed, there is a posibility to offer this fibre to any operator that wants to reach far villages from the interconnection points. (It is explained in Bold writting that Barcelona area is not included because there is existing real competition, or at least, some intention to be covered without helping operators to understand they must do so).

    I think that the KEY point here is the regulation we have, but it seems that is not helping new deployments, nor even from the incumbent. It is in spanish, but if you want you can get it here:

    Briefly: says that 30Mbps are an obligation from the incumbent to be offered to all third parties, and that Telefonica’s ducts are open for any operator that is aiming to deploy fibre inside this empty/filled up ducts ( then you have to study if the rental costs are good or not… and if you have to do civil works to achieve you FTTH network)

    If something do not fits with the real documents, that is what an engineer can understand from regulation papers and some proposals. I think that I’m closer to a lawyer than engineer each time I read those documents…

  2. Hi Benoît,

    The tricky part of Xarxa Oberta is that the deployment consists on a network for the main purpose of connecting the Catalan Government buildings and then offer the remaining capacity as a carrier’s carrier service.

    We do not know whether they will be able to convince the EU…

    Anyway, the real situation here in Spain is that Telefonica, that reaches all the municipalities, is doing NOTHING to deploy new access technologies.

    Most of the country can barely get 1M down / 300 k up and here in Barcelona, we are still stuck with 10M down / 300k up ADSL. And this cost 40EUR a month!!! This means that there is NO real competition… even in Barcelona.

    As Albert says, the CMT regulated the high speed services up to 30Mbps so there may also be a gap there.

    Finally, COVAGE ( is doing a similar approach in France, right? They are an open access operator.

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