Today, the importance of information technology is growing when it comes to improving many aspects of Society's functions:
- Citizen quality of life and access to information.
- Quality of the public administration's service.
- Company productivity.
New Information Society services have reached a level of development where it is more convenient to use broadband links to access them.
However, investments required to boost these links in areas with low population density and low business development, along with the revenue that can be predicted, meant that these areas initially fell outside the operators' broadband infrastructure deployment plans. The unavailability of advanced telecommunication services constitutes certain discrimination against its inhabitants, making the social gap larger in areas essentially rural with respect to urban areas. The inadequate capacity of transferring electronic communications decreases the possibilities of promoting and establishing economic activities of any kind.
The Basque Government is aware of this problem and has included actions aimed at dealing with this situation within the Basque Country in the Information Society Plan (PESI in its Spanish acronym).
Particularly, citing PESI's approach concerning general Broadband extension, the following has been established:
"the Basque Government's main commitment, in collaboration with the main implicated agents, is to make it easier to develop local infrastructures and complete private operator deployment, by identifying population centres without access to broadband services and defining a strategy to resolve these limitations, in order to provide universal access to the Information Society. To achieve this, a deployment plan of these infrastructures for the entire territory which considers the potential synergies with other basic infrastructures will be defined".
The following specific action has been derived from this Plan:
Action AZ-01: “Provide a Broadband infrastructure in all the Basque Country territory. Devise a Plan that provides Broadband infrastructures in the entire Basque Country”.
Starting from the premise that ITELAZPI, as an executing organ of the Project, will not provide Broadband services to the end-user, but it will place the necessary means so that a private telecommunication operator can provide the service at market prices.
Once the objectives had been set, and a public-private model of action had been defined, a call for tenders directed at operators was done, included in the ITELAZPI 026.SB.2004 internal report under the following title: “Contracting of the supply and workings of a telecommunications network to provide universal Broadband services in the Basque Autonomous Community. Konekta Zaitez @ Banda Zabala Project”.
After the corresponding evaluation of all the offers of all the operators who presented tenders, Itelazpi S.A. (a public sector company) during the meeting held Wednesday December 22, 2004, had decided to award the contract for the broadening of Broadband services in the Basque Autonomous Region to the Euskaltel telecommunications company.
After carrying out the pertinent studies and weighing the opinions of several public and private agents, on 11th May 2004 the Basque Cabinet of Ministers approved an agreement to extend broadband connections to all municipalities not included in the foreseeable infrastructure plans of private carriers in a reasonable amount of time. The Cabinet also agreed to entrust the public company ITELAZPI, S.A. with the task. To do this, the Basque Government will provide ITELAZPI the necessary credits to execute the project, approved in this Governing Council Agreement. The budget sum assigned to the project, as a whole, is 12 Million Euros.