Fixed broadband speed and the Law in Spain
In Spain consumer-grade, fixed broadband is delivered to the clients using mainly 5 types of technologies: ADSL2+, VDSL2, FTTH (or fibre to the home), Coaxial cable and WLL (Wireless local loop, long range WiFi or any other wireless technology with the objective of simulating a fixed landline connection).
ADSL2+ is the most common technology in Spain with a maximum theoretical download speed of 24Mbit/s. VDSL, a similar technology, has maximum speeds up to 50Mbit/s. ADSL2+ and VDSL2 are delivered through the standard telephone twisted pair line. Coaxial cable and FTTH can deliver speeds up to 100Mbit/s. Since fibre optic and coaxial cable require the deployment of new infrastructure, the roll out in Spain is presently limited to the main cities, where the population density justify the investment. Wireless technologies speed varies widely from 1 to few Mbit/s (we are not considering LTE technologies that are being deployed by mobile operators right now).
What is Affecting ‘Internet Speed’
The speed of an internet connection that you can have at home is dependent of many causes. Excluding issues inherent to your home network or computer, we can name: the synchronisation speed of your home broadband terminal, the congestion of the network and to a minor extent the quality and age of the cables.
With ADSL2+ or VDSL2, your home terminal (most of the time a router) will have to negotiate a connection speed with the equipment in the local exchange of your operator. This maximum speed negotiated by the equipment is strongly dependent to the distance of the house to the exchange.
Therefore if you live in a rural area, there are strong chances that your router will sync at speed far lower that what is advertised. You can read this speed by checking the administration panel of your ADSL2+ router. Your home connection will be capped by this sync speed. There is little that your broadband operator can do to improve the situation if you live far from a central exchange office as you cannot beat physics. In practice if the telephone cable connecting your home is longer than 3 to 4 Km you won’t have broadband at all.
In the municipality of Almuñécar, we have two local exchanges. One is located next to the covered market in Avenida Costa del Sol and the other in La Herradura near the school. For example the connection to our office that is located in Plaza Madrid is syncing at 30Mbit/s (VDSL2), while in Marina Del Este the internet connection is below 4Mbit/s (ADSL2+).
Your Internet operator has a certain amount of network resources for the interconnection of the different exchanges to its backbone. All the operator clients in the same area will share these resources. The metropolitan area network will be dimensioned according to the number of broadband users connected, but sometimes unscrupulous companies might tend to increase the amount of connections to a level that will degrade the effective speeds of internet connections.
This is happening very often with wireless networks. In the costa tropical and the Costa del Sol there are many small operators offering fixed wireless connections to your home (by placing a fixed antenna in your house). With few exceptions these types of internet connections are often highly congested.
The Service Level Agreement (SLA)
In Spain and in most of the European Union, there is no law that is forcing operators to offer a guaranteed speed. Nevertheless by law (consumer law 1/2007 of the 16 November) the internet operator has to include in the contract, the terms of service (the service level agreement) and the parameters at which the service is considered unacceptable.
In other words it is always a good idea to read fully the contract that is provided by the operator when you subscribe to your broadband connection. Business grade internet connections will offer a stringent SLA while in consumer connections the SLA will be more relaxed.
The Market Offer
The offer of broadband connections is very diverse. There are several websites that are trying to make sense of all this by collecting speed statistics all over Spain. http://bandaancha.eu/ is one of them. As you will see in the comparisons, there is a direct correlation between the price and the average effective speeds reached by the end users, in other words you pay for what you get.