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Start arrow Agenda arrow 22@Breakfast arrow Past Events arrow 22@Update breakfast January 2008
22@Update breakfast January 2008
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Telecommunications, foundation for the internationalization of businesses.

In order to create a modern, socially balanced environment, planning at the city and metropolitan area levels is essential. Promoting development based on internationalization depends mainly on the existence of a good telecommunications project, which allows these areas to overcome isolation and attract companies and talent from all over the world, stimulating both economic and social development.

At January.s 22@ Update Breakfast, Francesc Santacana, general coordinator of the Barcelona Strategic Metropolitan Plan, presented this project and the state of telecommunications, which is an essential part of the plan.

The Metropolitan Plan came about in 1988 through public and private consensus, with the participation of the Barcelona City Council, the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Sailing, the Cercle d.Economia and the University of Barcelona, among others. The objective of this plan is to stimulate economic and social transformation of the city and its metropolitan area. In 1990, the first Strategic Plan was approved, taking advantage of stimulus generated by the Olympic games. This plan aimed to consolidate Barcelona as an entrepreneuring European city that is influential in the region, socially balanced and has high living standards. In 1994, the second Plan was approved, ensuring economic and social progress and moving the metropolitan area into the world economy. In 1999, the third Plan was approved in order to create a knowledge-based city, the 22@ model.

Regarding telecommunications, Santacana affirms, .globalization wouldn.t be possible without communication technologies.. Telecommunications quality is the third most important factor companies look for when establishing offices and Barcelona must improve in this aspect in order to move up from the fifteenth place it currently occupies, and continue being attractive. For this reason the following steps were planned to improve telecommunications:
  • Guarantee sufficient availability of ISDN lines (integrated services digital network), as well as implanting broadband in the zone by 2000.
  • Lay cable throughout the Barcelona Metropolitan Area in order to allow interactive transmission of information (1994).
  • Improve network infrastructures in order to develop low-cost digital activities (1999).
  • Create telecommunications infrastructures that meet the needs of one of Europe.s leading regions (2003).
As Innovator of the Month the general manager of the Barcelona Digital Foundation, Vicenç Gasulla, summed up the basic ideas in the book The State of Telecommunications in the Barcelona Metropolitan Area.

This books aims to analyze the mistakes that have been made up to now in order to solve them and proposes initiatives that can help the metropolitan area.s economic, social and technological development.

About Internet access:
  • Companies with more than 10 workers: 94% are connected; but only 77% have broadband access.
  • Microbusinesses: only 46% have Internet access, 40% broadband.
.We need symmetric broadband with 50 Mbps if we really want information use to advance., affirms Gasulla. He also pointed out that, in addition to being behind in this aspect, there are parts of the metropolitan area that aren.t currently covered by broadband service. The industrial areas don.t have access and there are towns with only one service provider. On the other hand, in areas where there is competition, users don.t trust the product because information given by the providers is confusing.

Competition is necessary, but it has caused problems for the society due to the installation of innumerous telephone antennas, some of which are dangerous. An important challenge would be to construct a multipurpose antenna to be used by all providers.

Finally, it is noteworthy that there is no map of the infrastructures and broadband service available for Barcelona or the Metropolitan Area. Nor is there a map of the ducts and channels that would allow for coordination and planning.

Gasulla has three proposals to solve these problems, which he exposes in the book:
  1. Create a map of the infrastructures in order to know where there is fiber optics, ADSL and ADSL2.
  2. Develop a quality seal for contracts signed with a specific provider to serve as a guarantee for the user.
  3. Encourage investment in ICT (information and communication technologies), so that companies can internationalize.
To close January.s breakfast, Josep Miquel Piqué, managing director of 22@Barcelona, noted two important aspects of the district: the laying of dark fiber that is available to any service provider and space set aside in various residential blocks.


The Barcelona Strategic Metropolitan Plan was created with the objective of transforming the city and metropolitan area of Barcelona both socially and economically. The plan aims to find solutions to the challenges of the 21st century through consensus, shared leadership and cooperation among the different agencies participating in the project.

Information Technologies are essential as a result of globalization. For this reason, without a good telecommunications project, it.s impossible for local companies to go global or for Barcelona to attract foreign businesses.

It is important for broadband to reach to all areas of the territory and for there to be competition among providers in order to ensure quality and affordable prices. It would be ideal to have 50 Mbps symmetric broadband like the rest of the European countries.


.It.s interesting, but they forget aspects like network delay, which is fundamental when setting up interactive services. They only talk about transmission capacity and not about other network quality issues..

.Infrastructure is not service. In order to provide service there has to be something more than just infrastructure. No matter how strong the infrastructure, if there isn.t service behind it, it won.t work..

.We.re at a crossroads. The proposals are interesting, appropriate, but they might not be enough. There needs to be a proposal related to the lack of mobility. On the other hand, it.s impossible to sum up the entire book here, so now we.ll have to read it carefully and come to conclusions. Possibly, to give a common argument, ICT is a basic element, necessary to economic competitiveness and, right now, the Barcelona Metropolitan Area, Catalonia, Spain and Europe .to reach even further . are at a certain disadvantage with respect to other geographic areas like Asia and the USA, that are recovering. We run the risk, as a geographic area .by this I mean Europe., of losing competitiveness over the next ten years..

  • Barcelona Digital Foundation (FBD) is a private, not-for-profit organization made up of companies as well as government agencies. Their objective is to promote collective economic, technological and communication strategies in order to increase the productivity and efficiency of businesses and institutions. To do this, it.s necessary to catalyze the ICT related needs of various agents: companies, the Government, universities and society in general and join forces to foster development and innovation in the digital economy, brining social well-being and competitiveness to businesses, generating local economic activity, retaining talent and attracting foreign economic investment.
  • .Dark fiber. is the name given to fiber optics circuits that have been laid by a telecommunications provider, but are not yet in use. This happens because installation is very expensive and some companies prefer to install significantly more fiber than is currently needed in the initial network in order to avoid costly expansion in the future. The cables can contain different amounts of fibers: 6 pairs, 12 pairs, etc. However, as a result, not all cables laid are used. Those that are not currently in use are called dark fibers.
  • ADSL2 and ADSL2+ are technologies that allow significantly higher transfer rates than traditional ADSL; they use the same copper-cable telephone infrastructure. With ADSL, maximum download/upload speeds are about 8/1 Mbps. However, with ADSL2 they reach 12/2 Mbps and with ADSL2+, 24/2 Mbps. These technologies not only improve bandwidth, but also allow better supervision of the connection and quality of service (QoS). 

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