Closure of Historic Copper Infrastructure
Telefónica is set to conclude operations at its San Marcial copper plant located in San Sebastián’s historic center, marking a significant shift in the region’s telecommunications infrastructure. The National Markets and Competition Commission (CNMC) confirmed that the facility, notable for being the last in Telefónica’s network without a prior closure date, will cease operations on November 29, transitioning into a six-month “safekeeping” phase before the final shutdown.
Impact and Transition for Customers
This decision impacts 966 pending customers, comprising both retail and wholesale sectors, who were awaiting fiber connectivity amidst earlier deployment complications. Additionally, alternative radio service provisions are expected for 471 accesses, ensuring uninterrupted service continuity. The closure follows a protracted negotiation period with the San Sebastián City Council, resolving Telefónica’s fiber deployment challenges within the protected historic district.
Delayed Closure and Future Plans
Initially scheduled for closure in October 2021, the San Marcial plant’s decommissioning was deferred due to fiber rollout impediments in the conservation-sensitive zone. A recent agreement between Telefónica and city officials facilitated the fiber infrastructure extension, pivotal for the company’s strategic shift from its centenary copper network reliance in 2024.
Nationwide Shift to Fiber Optics
Telefónica’s transition is part of a broader transformation within Spain’s telecommunications sector, with the CNMC outlining the closure of 2,911 of 8,526 existing copper exchanges by 2023’s end. This expedited process, significantly progressing through 2024, aligns with the industry’s move towards more efficient fiber optic networks (FTTH), offering superior performance and necessitating fewer exchanges.
The CNMC emphasized the systemic benefits of these FTTH deployments, allowing for the agile planning of copper service closures. This development ensures that operators can provide alternative, more advanced access to their clientele, maintaining service standards and supporting Spain’s digital advancement.