Spanish operators have reportedly opted not to submit bids for a tender published by the Ministerio de Energia, Turismo y Agenda Digital (MINETAD) related to the maintenance of the country’s payphones, according to El Pais. With the ministry having launched the tender in September 2016, it is understood that the lack of interest from operators is related to what they view as the insufficient compensation offered under the tender to cover the costs of the required maintenance. As a result, it appears likely that the authorities will be required to assign responsibility for maintaining the nation’s payphones by decree, with the report saying that indications are fixed line incumbent Telefonica Espana (Movistar) will be selected, as it was previously in 2011.
As per the country’s existing universal service obligations, there must be at least one public payphone per 3,000 inhabitants in each town with a population of more than 1,000, while it also requires at least one telephone box in all municipalities with less than 1,000 inhabitants. The report notes that there are currently just under 26,000 payphones in Spain, down significantly from 100,000 in 2000. Notably, in March 2016 local telecoms regulator the Comision Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia (CNMC) outlined plans to remove universal service obligations for public payphones, citing both decreasing demand and the increased cost of their provision, though the MINETAD has yet to respond to this proposal.