• According to the report La Sociedad Digital en España 2019 (The Digital Society in Spain 2019) by Fundación Telefónica, our country continues to make progress in its digital transition and is leading the way in connectivity and infrastructure.

  • Three out of four Spanish households have fibre optic coverage, and nine out of ten Spaniards are Internet users. The main objective should be the digitalisation of SMEs and the self-employed.

 

Spain continues to move towards digital transition, the so-called fourth revolution. A transition that, although not free of challenges and uncertainties, has very positive effects on the economy and society, and offers great opportunities. The current Covid-19 crisis has demonstrated this in recent months: thanks to the high level of digitalisation in Spain, it has been possible to adapt work, study, leisure and our way of life in record time, allowing the continuity of most essential activities.

The Digital Society in Spain 2019’ report, recently presented by Fundación Telefónica, covers the progress made in our country in this regard, as well as the challenges of the future. The document highlights the high technological penetration in Spanish society. By 2019, Spanish people will have widespread access to the Internet: 9 out of 10 are already users, and the connection to networks is ultra-fast, with 3 out of 4 homes connected by fibre optics. This broadband technology is, in fact, the fastest growing, and has increased from 63% to 77% in two years. This data places Spain in first place in terms of coverage and optical fiber customers in Europe.

On a global scale, the data has also grown: in 2018, for the first time, more than half of the world’s inhabitants used Internet, with a penetration of 69.3% subscriptions per 100 inhabitants. The number of mobile broadband users has grown by an incredible 22% per year on average over the last five years.

 

The digitalisation of SMEs and self-employed workers, a source of wealth

 

The main challenge described in the Fundación Telefónica report is the acceleration of the digitalisation of the industry, especially for SMEs and the self-employed. Two factors that, according to the document, are key to reactivating the economy after the Covid-19 crisis and generating employment. On this point, the report stresses that this digitalisation must be centred on people – and that they must be the beneficiaries – and that no one should be left behind. A challenge that must also increase training Spanish people in digital skills, with a social vision that includes protecting people with an ethical framework and a new socially oriented contract.

The fruits of this digitalisation are many and could prove to be very positive. Within four years, Spanish industrial companies expect to increase their income by around 11% and reduce their costs by almost a 20%. Overall, Spain’s digital reinvention could reach an annual value equivalent to 1.8% of GDP by 2025.

The technologies needed by both SMEs and large companies include cloud computing, the use of analysis through big data and artificial intelligence (AI). One of the areas that can contribute most to the evolution of AI is voice interaction with intelligent devices. In Spain, according to the Fundación Telefónica report, up to a third of those surveyed use an intelligent voice recognition system.

The report also insists that, despite the digitalisation and automation needed in our economy, the greatest guarantee of not leaving anyone behind is the development of what differentiates us from machines: creativity, critical thinking, social skills, emotional thinking, collaborative work and the ability to inspire.

 

Spain maintains its level of confidence in the Internet

 

Although the Spanish society is increasingly digital, it has also generated doubts and concerns about the use of this technology and phenomena such as cybercrime, fake news and privacy issues.

According to data from the ‘National Observatory of Telecommunications’ and the ‘IS (ONTSI)’ collected in the Telefónica report, the level of confidence shown by Spaniards in the Internet has remained constant in recent years. 42% of Internet users declare to have a lot or sufficient confidence in the Internet. The main doubts arise in the transfer of personal data for online services, especially through email and instant messaging.

Another challenge is that of cyber-threats to companies. Although Spain is one of the best prepared countries for combating this type of digital crime, it must continue to insist that cyber security is at the epicentre of economic processes.

 

Film, video games and online music continue to grow

 

The audiovisual sector has experienced a remarkable growth in recent years. Since 2015, the number of pay TV subscribers in its different modalities has increased by around 25%, reaching almost seven million (according to CNMC data collected by Fundación Telefónica).

In the digital life of Spaniards, cinema also stands out, with a total turnover of 585 million euros in 2018; video games, a solid business activity – especially the so-called e-sports, whose turnover in the same year amounted to 530 million euros; and recorded music, which generated 237 million euros. Digital online habits that are on par with the rest of the world: 63.1% of the world’s users listen to music, online radio programs and podcasts, and 51.9% watch multimedia content using Internet, thus placing digital leisure at the forefront of Internet activities.

 

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