Manufacturing of telephone lines

Ericsson was established in Spain in 1922 and opened its first factory in Spain in Getafe (Madrid) in 1924. In 1926, Ericsson made its first contribution to the Spanish telephone network with the installation of a central AGF exchange in San Sebastian. Until the late 1960s, Ericsson had a presence in areas such as telex and strategic networks for the military, and in 1969, Ericsson was chosen by Telefonica as a supplier of transmission equipment.

Ericsson’s first customers in Spain were public administration, Telefonica and the Air Force.

In 1970, Telefonica and Ericsson formed the joint venture INTELSA in which Ericsson had a 51% holding and Telefonica 49%. INTELSA was focused on telecommunications, public switching, transmission, energy and communications companies.

In 1974, Ericsson opened a factory in Leganés (Madrid). In its first years of operation, the factory already showed the significant transformation brought about by the shift from the electromechanical, more labor-intensive systems to electronic systems. This shift allowed the installation of the first digital switching center in the central AXE Telefonica de Atocha in 1980, and led to the creation of the company’s research center in Madrid in 1986.

At this time, Ericsson was still primarily represented by INTELSA, which focused mainly on producing for the needs of a single customer. Ericsson acquired Telefonica’s holdings in INTELSA in 1987, and in 1990 provided more than one million lines.

Ericsson Radio SA was established in 1993 with the objective of addressing the emerging mobile telephony market. Ericsson then became a technical partner to the firm Indelec SA) and delivered the first GSM system to Telefonica.

Indelec was founded in 1984 on the basis of an agreement between Telefonica and the Basque government. In 1993, Ericsson acquired 19% of the Zamudio factory, which at the time had a workforce of 118 employees. 

In 1994, Ericsson took over the management of the company and Telefonica sold their participating interest to Ericsson in 1995, resulting in a holding of 90% of the shares of Indelec. 

In 1996, Ericsson acquired 100% of the plant and made it the industrial base for the activities of Ericsson Radio in Spain and a competence center for analog terminals. In 1998, Ericsson developed the first Fixed Mobile Integrated Terminal. In 1999, Indelec was renamed the Technology Center of Bilbao 

With the arrival of deregulation and the second largest mobile operator, an opportunity arose to open up the market and make the transformation from a company focused on producing and delivering to a single customer, Telefonica, to a diversified company with specific resources dedicated to each client and turnkey projects. Following market deregulation, the Telefonica contract was followed by contracts with Airtel (now Vodafone) in 1995 and Amena in 1998.

In early 1997, Ericsson made the strategic decision to specialize in segments in which technology was the most competitive factor and leave those in which it was not. This reorganization of the group on a global scale envisaged the transfer of certain low-tech content activities to partners in global schemes.

In 1998, Ericsson Spain successfully completed the renovation of its industrial model in Spain through the installation of the companies SCI and Chatham, who assumed the activities in the areas of component assembly in plates, and the manufacture of metal cabinets and cables.

This transformation of the company is perfectly illustrated in the evolution of the workforce, which remained stable at an average of 3,300 employees, but experienced a substantial change in its composition. In 1990, approximately 70% of the workforce was composed of blue-collar workers, but by the end of the decade, they only accounted for 10% of the workforce. During the same period, the average age of employees dropped by 10 years to the age of 35.

  • 1922 Ericsson established in Spain
  • 1926 AGF exchange in San Sebastián
  • 1970 Creation of INTELSA (Telefónica 49%, Ericsson 51%)
  • 1980 First AXE exchange in Madrid – Atocha
  • 1982 NMT- 450 mobile network
  • 1984 Ibercom network based on MD 110
  • 1986 Creation of R&D Center in Madrid
  • 1992 Telefonica GSM contract
  • 1995 Airtel GSM contract
  • 1998 Main supplier of the 3 Operators for GSM 1800
  • 2000 Three UMTS contracts: Telefónica, Amena and Xfera
  • 2001 GSDC Compentence Center for 3G Networks (IN)
  • 2002 Madrid R&D Center: Ericsson Main Center
  • 2003 Amena Radio Network outsourcing contract
  • 2004 Amena UMTS Core Network and UMTS extension Telefonica´s network
  • 2005 Core network evolution in Vodafone Spain and IMS successes in Vodafone and Movistar


Author: Ignacio Miquel

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