Viasat is helping Spain close in on a decade-long goal. Two years ago, the company began offering high-speed satellite internet service in Spain, with unlimited data plans offering up to 50 Mbps speeds. Spain is among several European countries working to offer service at a minimum of 30 Mbps to all its citizens by 2020.
That goal is outlined in the European Commission’s “Digital Agenda,” part of the Commission’s broader Europe 2020 economic recovery plan. Those policy goals, announced in 2010, include increasing access to high-speed broadband. The Commission set 2020 as the target for making 30 Mbps or higher internet speeds available to all Europeans.
In Spain, a country of more than 46 million, 2018 figures showed about 20% - or around 10 million people – lacked such access. While disruptions tied to COVID-19 have delayed the release of updated data, many believe that number now stands at only about 4 million.
“We connect the unconnected anywhere in the Iberian Peninsula, playing a major role in bridging the digital gap between rural and urban Spain, and helping Spain reach the full 30 Mbps availability target set by the Digital Agenda for Europe,” said Javier Biosca, Viasat’s country manager for Spain.
To help cross that divide, Viasat is collaborating with several Spanish companies, including public relations and marketing companies to let people know about the service. There are also call centers where agents take sales orders, and a network of installers to ensure the best possible service experience.
As it has in the U.S., the coronavirus dramatically shifted the demand for internet service and its delivery in Spain. It was among the first European countries to adopt confinement policies after declaring a state of emergency on March 14.
“That led to an unprecedented increase in demand for satellite broadband – an increase of more than 35% in daily orders for Viasat’s service in the first week of mandatory confinement alone,” Biosca said. “That demand was driven primarily by teleworkers and families that needed a quality broadband connection to allow them to work from home and their kids to continue classes remotely.”
He added that, even though the restrictions are being partially lifted, this increased demand persists.
Viasat’s Spanish installers have answered that demand, while taking precautions to protect customers and themselves.
“Viasat is working closely with our installation partners to ensure they have all the safety gear and protocols to continue connecting the unconnected safely despite this extraordinary situation,” Biosca said.
That includes working with legal counsel to ensure installers have paperwork that allows them to continue traveling and working in rural Spain. While all non-essential activity was banned in Spain on March 29, providing telecommunications services is categorized as essential and exempt from the restrictions.
Other Viasat Spain employees are also doing their part to bring service to those that need it – working from the safety of their homes.
“Our team is used to working remotely, so the impact has barely been felt,” Biosca said. “The most challenging aspect is keeping on top of the news to make sure we can provide our installers the right guidance and adapt our installation capabilities quickly when extraordinary measures are being announced on a weekly basis.”