In the first scene you see a woman sitting at the table in the cozy dining room of a village restaurant.
-Can you bring me the bill please?
– Cash or card?
– Follow me
In the second, the owner of the establishment and the client herself are inside a car. It's closed night. They have traveled more than five kilometers along a narrow road to try their luck. Bingo! Here there is coverage! The dataphone works!
The scene is taken from the real life of Luis Ortas, a classic entrepreneur, with commerce -Store, camping and restaurant- for sixty years in Nocito, in the region of La Hoya (Huesca), a beautiful enclave located on the north face of the Sierra de Guara to which the light and the telephone arrived late and where today Internet works with pedals.
-Yes, yes, it's usual. It happens in winter, when there is snow or fog and in summer when there are many people.
-And the clients do not complain?
– The opposite!
Nocito -one of the seven nuclei of Nueno municipality – It housed in its time more than 100 inhabitants and endless trades: teacher, blacksmith, baker … Today, in its streets you can not see a soul. With the population decimated and hardly active, it is as physically isolated as it is technologically in a labyrinth of difficult exit. Its 27 neighbors – more than 250 in summer – must drive an hour to the head of the municipality, 17 kilometers from Huesca, to go to the doctor, and those that luck wants to communicate by mobile or make arrangements on the Internet. Ortas assumes it with sportsmanship. His wife, Pilar Albas, takes it worse.
–Why do you think the valley was depopulated? Nobody took care of us, that's why it became depopulated.
– Do they feel treated as second-class citizens?
-The second, fourth or fifth.
Nocito is an extreme case in 21st century Spain -generally well communicated and rich in infrastructures- but it serves to illustrate the crossroads in which today are some small municipalities, with almost no neighbors and aging, to which basic services do not arrive and that have difficulties attracting new sap that energizes the territory. "The biggest problem that has the depopulation is that it is depleted of talent"Says the businessman Carlos Barrabés, who in 1995 converted the family trade of mountain material in the Pyrenean town of Benasque in one of the first Spanish stores on-line. "The future of the rural world lies in creating value in the face of urbanization. I always say that small entities have to establish themselves as hubs, as Binéfar has done, which has developed an entire ecosystem around meat in the area, or Barbastro around wine, "he says. "You have to offer a version of the rural world as a place where exciting things happen. The capital is the content although the infrastructures are also very important. If we talk about broadband, I think that for Binéfar it is much more important to have fiber than a better road ".
Isaura Leal, commissioner of the Government for the demographic challenge. "A country can not afford to renounce a large part of its territory because it also implies renouncing its resources, a way of life, a way of coexistence and a model of social and territorial cohesion."
Luis Antonio Sáez, professor of Applied Economics at the University of Zaragoza. "In the rural world, the issue of housing is as important as broadband. You put broadband, put housing and people will open their eyes. " "Much of the unpopulated area of Aragon, for example, is accessible and there is an acceptable quality of life despite that mantra that you do not have the same services as in the big city. Clear! I do not have the Prado Museum in Zaragoza either. "
Guillermo Palacín, mayor of Nueno. "Many of the jobs that are in the cities could be done in our towns with new technologies, I would dare say that the transfer of population that occurred in the industrial revolution could be reversed if propitiated by the Administrations. But there we would have to work, legislate, train and energize. "
In the extensive and dispersed Spain, in the Spain that has 53% of its territory at demographic risk – at the head of the European Union – the rural world has added in recent times to its usual demands a new one: a quality broadband that adds attractive to the hook of the field and the cheapest house. As of July 1, 2018 only 48% of the nuclei of less than 5,000 inhabitants, in which 10,334,755 people reside, had 30 Mbps broadband, the basic one, according to data provided by Pedro Alonso Manjón, deputy general director of Networks and Operators of the Secretary of State for Digital Advancement. And in the villages they feel that this insufficient implementation of technology widens the gap that separates them from the cities – in electronic administration, digital education, telecare for the elderly, access to leisure … – and scares, in addition, those who are willing to travel the reverse way to the industrial revolution, in search of a more natural and calm life. Because as Luis Antonio Sáez, professor of Applied Economics at the University of Zaragoza says, "broadband alone does not attract, but its lack does generate rejection".
"We would have liked to stay in this area, set up our headquarters here, but we have not been able to, and the main problem has been the Internet," says Adrián Navarro. He and his partner Belián Martínez are the promoters of Guara Norte, an active tourism, sports and adventure firm that manages the interpretation center and the Salto del Roldán shelter in Sabayés, 20 kilometers from Huesca.
Without quality connection to offer the information required by visitors, with a data contract that runs out the first weekend of the month -with the consequent protests from customers-, they saw that they set up their office where they develop most of their work was unviable, so they settled on a ship in the capital. There they have, they explain, "a fiber with unlimited data" that costs them the same as their very poor connection in Sabayés. "If we had broadband, we would certainly value moving. We want to become strong in this area. "
The moment they have to make that decision will not be long in coming. The Provincial Council of Huesca, in collaboration with the operator Embou, has initiated – with European funds – a plan to offer basic connection in 20 months to 331 municipalities of less than 96 inhabitants, according to Jorge Blasco, general director of this firm that has conquered the region "with the crumbs of the cake that did not interest the big" companies. The project is not the only one underway in Spain. Other provincial and autonomous institutions have designed their strategies. Recently, the government approved a plan to end the digital divide in municipalities with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants that involves Telefónica, Orange and Vodafone, and plans to double coverage in that segment of the population by 2020.
"Broadband is essential for the purposes of economic activity, employment, but also effective exercise of rights and to guarantee equal opportunities ", underlines Isaura Leal, Government Commissioner for the Demographic Challenge. "Any entrepreneur who wants to develop a new professional project including the modernization of agriculture or livestock needs as a priori measure of all others have broadband, with good mobile phone coverage to make your project viable, economically sustainable," keep going.
That they say it to Guillermo Palacín, sheep farmer and mayor of Nueno (PSOE) during six legislatures, who now tries to recover areas for grazing with what he calls "the virtual shepherd", a digital system that also controls health of the animals. "Our future goes through Internet connections," he emphasizes. "The formation of our schools, the health of our offices, the daily life of our neighbors, agriculture, livestock …". And also, he suggests, the viability of many businesses that could move from the city to the countryside.
"We are aware that we can not return to the censuses we once had in rural areas, that is impossible," says Miguel Gracia, president of the Provincial Council of Huesca, appointed by the Spanish Federation of Municipalities and Provinces (FEMP) to work on the National Strategy against the Demographic Challenge. "But we do have to have living towns where there are young couples who want to come to work and live with other inducements such as taxation or social security issues." The most important thing, he emphasizes, is access to housing and work, and connectivity is essential within the work.
Aida Zamora and her husband José Ángel Guirao survive despite the Internet. Neighboring the village since she was one year old, Zamora studied at the art school of Huesca and lived in the capital for a while. He became a muralist, worked for Port Aventura, Dinópolis … but when he became a mother – his children are now six and eight years old – he turned his life around. "I wanted to be with them, take care of them," he explains. Today, back in Nueno, she earns her living as an illustrator on-line. Zara has been one of their last big clients; has developed a wrapper for the line of baby perfumes for the textile chain.
Getting here, her husband points out, has not been easy. "When we started, we had to wait for a neighbor to leave the Internet to occupy his site, everything was taken," he says. Now that they have it, their problem is that there are days when the connection does not work and they can only work halfway. Have you lost a contract? "Contracts, no. But make customers wait, yes. And, of course, you look bad, what excuse do you put? "Laments Zamora. The pair calculates that it will invoice between 30 and 40% more the day that the broadband takes off in Nueno.
According to the digital strategy launched in 2010 by the EU, all Europeans should have basic broadband since 2013, fast -more than 30 Mbps- by 2020 and ultra-fast -more than 100 Mbps- also for next year, although in In this case, the purpose is to be available in half of the households. But the objective will not be achieved by the scheduled date, according to a 2018 analysis of the European Court of Auditors, which highlights the scarce technological deployment in the field as one of the critical points. At the time of the study – which, in any case, reflects great progress – 14 States had less than 50% coverage in these areas. In the case of Spain, the contrast between the countryside and the city is extreme despite the fact that it has an extensive fiber optic network – superior to that of surrounding European countries.
"The deployment in the rural world has two handicaps compared to that of the big city," says a spokesman for Telefónica. "The costs are higher due to population dispersion," he explains, "and you also find that you deploy fiber but then the penetration is very low. Removing the rural house, the pharmacy … They are elderly without training unlike what happens in rural areas of Germany, the United Kingdom or France, where they have more digital training. "
This being the case, fiber often does not come to mind and in the deployments -which still do not reach all- the radio technologies -3G or 4G- or others that provide access from a fixed location (WIMAX) and that "substitute The fiber optic cable has been successfully used to provide broadband connectivity of 30 or more Mbps, "according to the general deputy director of Networks and Operators. Telefónica stresses the same thing and adds: "In connectivity in the rural world we can get breast. We are much better than the rest. What remains much to do? Clear".
It remains that Paloma Delgado, the doctor who attends Arascués, can access her patients' reports every day and does not have to travel to another medical center to commission analytics. It is that the Madrid-born Beatriz González, sheriff in Nueno, has no problems to enter the base on-line the data thrown by the water controls in the area. It remains that Laura Valentine is not in the position of having to improvise a plan B in the kindergarten of the municipality each time that educational activities of the 21st century for children. It remains that David Gopegui, owner of an active tourism firm in Borau, can stay at home and not see the need to travel to Jaca to work when his company's website collapses. It remains that her neighbor Ana Tirapo, owner of the rural house Los lirios, will not have problems to take care of reservations online or charge with dataphone. It remains that the City Council, Ana Murillo, does not take four hours to access an official document …
In Borau, as in Nueno, Sabayés or Arascués, at the end of November there is a certain euphoria before the imminent technological deployment in the area. "It is assumed that broadband will change everything for the better," says Mayor Daniel López. "We can be like any person who lives in a big city, have the same opportunities. And to help us continue to develop. "
-You can see them as in Welcome Mr. Marshall.
-Yesterday [durante la presentación del plan de banda ancha] it looked like it, he laughs, but the set design was different, eh!