The Ombudsman shows concern about the digital divide in Spain



The Ombudsman warns of the digital divide that "separates the inhabitants of the least populated areas" from those of other areas such as the capitals or the coast, and ensures that Internet access "in adequate and equal conditions for all citizens "worries the institution.

In his report on 2019, the ombudsman, Francisco Fernández Marugán, recalls that there is still a lack of regulations that regulate the provision of telecommunications services, universal service and the protection of users, a "gap" that, Although an attempt has been made to "sidestep" with the General Telecommunications Law, "it is far from giving an adequate response."

Among other topics, the document, presented this Wednesday in the Cortes, highlights the problems of access to mobile telephony in sparsely populated areas, where the service "is not guaranteed" to citizens who in 2019 continued to send their complaints to the institution.

As the Ombudsman explains, once said information was transferred to both the Secretary of State for Digital Advancement and the operators, "the responses show that in the decision-making the strategies of a technical and commercial nature of the companies prevail. "

In fixed telephony, in the last year user complaints were repeated regarding the delay in processing portability requests and the transfer of telephone lines, although these incidents "are usually resolved after the start of the corresponding actions "

In addition, briefs were received from subscribers who were beneficiaries of the "home telecare" service who had suffered an interruption in the provision of telephony service, a problem that the Ombudsman reported to the operators and the Secretary of State "so that they could be adopted with speed up the appropriate measures. "

Meanwhile, in cases where there was no such urgency, efforts were made to provide the operator with compensation for the damages caused, as provided in the charter of the rights of the user of electronic communication services.

Another recurring issue in 2019 was billing for calls to customer service from companies that enable 901 and 902 phone numbers.

The institution appeals to Community regulations, reinforced by the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), which provides that in the event that the merchant enables a telephone line to communicate with him in relation to a contract, the consumer will not you are required to pay more than the basic fee.

In this sense, the Administration affirmed "to be aware of the problem raised and that it planned to promote the proposed legislative amendment when the resumption of legislative activity allowed it."

Follow-up also continues with regard to Internet access, an issue "of concern" to the Ombudsman "as it supposes a digital divide that separates the inhabitants of the least populated areas, generally the interior of the peninsula, from those of the more populated areas, such as capitals or the coastal zone. "

This issue, indicates the report, was discussed with the Government Commissioner before the Demographic Challenge, which referred to the European Digital Agenda, which establishes, among its objectives, accessibility to new generation networks for all, no later than 2020 , which implies guaranteeing full territorial connectivity.

Thus, he announces, the next reports will assess the plans currently in place, such as the new generation broadband extension program, aid to promote demand for fixed broadband at 30 Mbps, or the initiative " Connected Schools ", which plans to reach more than five million public school students.

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