Francisco Román

President of  Vodafone Spain

“There are more than 150 operators in Europe, compared to four in the United States and three or four in China”

How can we promote the intensive use of ICTs in our society?

Apps are key. In the personal sphere, apps are increasingly focused on entertainment, leisure, and fulfilling our needs. In the business world, we need to find solutions that can help companies be more efficient, dynamic, and profitable. Telefónica is involved in both worlds and works in various aspects of ICT, such as apps and the development of new services. Nevertheless, there is a basic element—infrastructure—without which none of this would be possible. We are talking about 4G technology for mobile telecommunications and fiber optic connectivity.

We have not been left behind despite the crisis.

One might say that Spain is a telecommunications paradise, given that anyone in Spain can get mobile coverage. Half of the population has access to some kind of connection offering speeds of 300 mbps, which in the rest of the world only happens in places like Seoul. Telefónica is at the cutting edge of communications development in Europe, as well as being the primary investor and innovator in the sector. Setting the standard to follow is one aspect of being a market leader, and Telefónica is beginning to set the standard in the sector.

Is there sufficient competition in Spain in this sphere?

It’s true that there are only three operators that build networks, but these operators are leaders in their areas and each focuses on their own niche. It would be a very good thing for there to be more than three operators with investment capacity. European regulations allow for the creation of initiatives employing third-party networks. In a market as competitive as Spain’s, regulations should prioritize investment above other parameters. This is Telefónica’s philosophy: investment, network development, services, and techology that provide users with the services they demand. We have to rethink the European model and encourage investment. And that will inevitably lead to fewer players in the European market.

What are the challenges for a digital single market in the European Union?

Without the best telecommunications it is impossible to have more profitable, sustainable, and efficient companies. A European digital single market means encouraging investment and network development. It is said that in 2020 we should be connecting at 30 mbps but this is already outdated. Now we should be thinking way beyond that, heading toward 100 to 300 mbps. This would build a more efficient and sustainable industry in Europe.

Telefónica has repatriated some of the services that it had moved abroad.

We have repatriated all of our call centers. The quality that we can offer here is greater than what we can deliver from Latin America due to our knowledge of Spain and its geographical proximity. But the move also has another purpose: we want to keep driving and encouraging Spain’s development by creating jobs. We have approximately ten thousand employees working on all services twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. We have recruited five thousand highly qualified staff to build networks, having focused on the sphere of fiber optics during the crisis. And more than one thousand young people have joined our talent programs. This demonstrates a real commitment to the country and its people.