Back in 1998, Spain (and the world) was very different than it is today. in which year Titanic She made history at the Oscars with her 11 statuettes, in our country they are still paid in pesetas. On the other side of the Atlantic, in the United States, two young engineers – Sergey Brin and Larry Page – launched a website called Google. DVD has forever replaced old VHS videos, and 400 km from Earth, the International Space Station is starting to work.
In the same year, mobile phone sales rose to 162,900 units worldwide, which was a record. And a little-known telecommunications company in Spain, Orange, began operating on Spanish soil. Twenty-five years have passed, a quarter of a century in which the operator has contributed to the digitization and modernization of Spain with an investment of more than 35,500 million euros.
Orange’s commitment to advancing the country remains intact. In the past five years, the company has dedicated 20% of its annual revenue to improving its innovation plans and expanding its infrastructure. The data supports this effort. Today, its fiber penetration reaches nearly 17 million homes and businesses, and 5G coverage covers 80% of the population. In fact, it became the first Spanish operator – and one of the first in Europe – to launch a 5G+ network. This technology, which is already accessible to 30% of the area, offers even greater advantages: better indoor coverage, longer phone battery life and security, lower latency …
All these actions show Orange’s contribution both to the digital transformation of society and its productive fabric, and to people, who give technology its full meaning. An example is the recent opening of the Orange Digital Center in Madrid. The Orange Foundation, which also celebrates its silver anniversary in Spain this year, is the promoter of this center. It is designed to reduce the digital divide in groups at risk of exclusion: from young people with difficulties coping with women in a precarious situation and people with autism.
The aim is for each of them to be able to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for their personal development, so that they can integrate into society and thus increase their professional skills and employment. These new facilities also serve as a meeting point for entrepreneurs and startups That they have access to many practices and resources to start their own business.
in favor of the environment
Other Orange business priorities include its commitment to sustainable development and combating climate change. Despite the increase in its business, the company has been able to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. In the past year alone, they have dropped as much as 57%. In this way, Orange will achieve carbon neutrality in Spain in 2023 (net emissions for Scope 1 and 2 using emissions offset).
Among other actions, it will continue to reforest the Orange Forest, located in Igulf (Teruel), which was devastated by forest fires in 2009. Almost 37,000 trees have already been planted here in about 40 hectares, capable of absorbing 9,750 tons of CO₂. The idea is to reach 54 hectares throughout this year.
The promotion of clean energy is one of its priorities. The operator announced an investment of 2.5 million euros for the self-consumption of solar energy. By the end of 2024, it will install solar panels at 33 facilities in 19 provinces. It will accelerate the launch of the mobile device recycling program in Europe, reaching 30% in 2025.
Looking to the future, Orange maintains its commitment to Spain. In its roadmap, the telco recognizes that there are still many challenges to be faced with regards to digitization. For this reason, both the multinational company and its foundation affirm their commitment to contribute to digital transformation, environmental transformation and social cohesion. These three pillars are an essential part of its activity and correspond to the needs of a country and a world facing the challenge of leaving the doubts of today to face the conquest of tomorrow with optimism.
Among the most digitalized countries in Europe
Companies in Spain’s telecommunications sector have invested an annual average of 5,500 million euros since 1998, placing our country among the best in Europe. It is one of the conclusions of the report The Impact of Digital Transformation in Spain: 1998-2023, jointly prepared by the consulting company Nae and the Orange Foundation. The work shows the “roundabout” progression that has taken place in this transformation in the past 25 years, and indicates that in the period 2017-2022 Spain reached the 7th position and topped France (12), Germany (13) or Italy (18).
The study showed that the digitization of the country, thanks to the promotion of telecommunications, contributed about 7,500 million euros annually to the national gross domestic product during the period 2013-2018. In terms of connectivity, he noted that Spain ranks third in the world in terms of percentage of fiber penetration in relation to total broadband access. It has only been surpassed by historical countries in spreading this technology such as South Korea and Japan.
At the European Union (EU) level, Spain leads the ranking of countries with the highest proportion of households with fixed broadband connections of at least 100 Mbps. Thanks to the efforts of telecom operators, Spain entered the top three countries with the best connectivity in the European Union. Although these figures reflect the success of the digitization process, there are some social groups that, despite these multiple developments, cannot enjoy the benefits offered by technology. So much so that only 64.2% of Spain’s population has basic digital skills. This percentage is still far from the target set by the European Commission: at least 80% of the population must possess these basic digital skills. Improving the digital skills of citizens is the biggest challenge to move towards full digitization. Therefore, it is necessary to continue to create opportunities so that all citizens can develop them, regardless of their personal, social or professional status.
The report also highlights that the digital divide between urban and rural areas has decreased, from 18% in 2004 to 4% in 2022. It notes that this decrease, along with an increase in connection speed in rural areas, has a “positive effect in reducing migration of people into rural areas.
In terms of the number of daily Internet users, it has increased from 16.1% in 2003 to 87.1% in 2022. The digital divide in Internet access based on age has decreased significantly in recent years, rising from 50.5 points in 2012 to 18 points in 2022. In the case of those over 74, the gap in terms of the percentage of global users is much higher, reaching 58 points last year.
“Inclusion remains the great challenge that corporations, non-profit entities and public administrations must work together on if we are to complete this process of modernization for our country,” admits Orange’s Director of Sustainability and the Orange Foundation, Daniel Morales.