Spanish telco giant Telefónica made the surprise announcement on Tuesday that it is turning on its advanced 5G mobile network in all of Spain. Telefónica is owner of the Movistar brand, as well as the UK's O2 and other wide-ranging interests.
The firm says all regions now have the technological capability and, by the end of 2020, 75 per cent of people in Spain will be able to access its 5G service with Movistar.
The president of Telefónica, José María Álvarez-Pallete, said that the initiative was "a golden opportunity" for Spain to lead what he called "the fourth industrial revolution".
The aim is for all towns with a population over 20,000 to have the service by the end of the year.
The company also recently announced that it is pushing out fibre optic to all areas of Spain for 2025.
Telefónica's chief explained in the public announcement this week that Spain already has the largest fibre optic network in Europe.
Double 4G and 5G use
To get 5G out to so many people so quickly, Telefónica is using DSS (Dynamic Spectrum Sharing) technology, which allows 5G to piggyback on the existing Movistar 4G network. Any new infrastructure will be added gradually, as needed.
Older technology will be slowly switched off in the coming years, the company has said.
"One hundred per cent of the copper wire network will have been replaced by fibre by 2025, the same time that the 3G network is switched off."
Vodafone was the first network to announce 5G for Spain in summer last year, but with more limited coverage. Currently it is in 21 cities. Orange has also said it will start a limited 5G service in Spain this year.