Spanish Government Turns Off Free WiFi In Barcelona

from the forget-philly... dept

While there's been a ton of coverage concerning the bill in Pennsylvania to stop municipal broadband offerings, and how that could derail Philadelphia's WiFi plans, there's a more interesting case over in Barcelona. There, the city had already set up a free WiFi system, though it was quite limited. It was designed so users could just view 60 websites related to information and services for the city. However, even though the system was already built, and only offered in this limited way, the Spanish Telecommunications Market Commission has forced the city to turn off the network, claiming it violates competition rules (found via Broadband Reports). It's hard to see how a WiFi network that only lets you visit 60 specific websites is competing with anything, but apparently those are finer points that the Commission didn't want to bother explaining. It's also difficult to see how the added competition of another network can go against competition rules. Isn't more competition a good thing?
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  • identicon
    Steve Mueller, 30 Nov 2004 @ 10:17am

    Competition

    It's also difficult to see how the added competition of another network can go against competition rules. Isn't more competition a good thing?
    The question is whether it's fair competition. When a government sets up free WiFi access using (presumably) taxpayer money, it makes it hard for a business (which needs to make a profit) to compete.

    It's similar to the Internet Explorer/Netscape browser wars. The competition between two separately installable browsers was good. It became bad when Microsoft bundled IE into Windows.

    As you've said many times before, perhaps the government should just set up the infrastructure and let the businesses set up plans for using it.

    However, I mainly agree with your point that this seems ridiculous given the limit of 60 city-related sites that could be visited. I suppose the business group could argue that this takes money away from businesses that cater to providing Web access to tourists, who would be less likely to use those services if free tourist information is available from the city itself, but I don't know if any such business existed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 30 Nov 2004 @ 11:31pm

      Re: Competition

      Along the same line of thinking, we also need to get government out of the business of providing free roadways. This is obviously not fair competition. When a government sets up free roadway access using (presumably) taxpayer money, it makes it hard for a business (which needs to make a profit) to compete.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Steve Mueller, 1 Dec 2004 @ 12:07am

        Re: Competition

        Good point, Coward. I guess the group representing the vast Roadway Service Provider industry has been slacking off. Now that you've raised the issue, though, I'm sure they'll rectify that oversight.

        As basic human needs include food and shelter, I'm sure you also support free housing and food for everybody, too. Why have those greedy farmers and construction workers gouging the public when a typically efficient government agency can meet our needs.

        I look forward to more of your insightful posts.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Hero, 1 Dec 2004 @ 5:23pm

          Re: Competition

          "As basic human needs include food and shelter, I'm sure you also support free housing and food for everybody, too. Why have those greedy farmers and construction workers gouging the public when a typically efficient government agency can meet our needs."
          Why would A.C. support that? He, like yourself, seems to oppose taxpayer supported government services. By the way, haven't you ever heard of toll roads?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Steve Mueller, 2 Dec 2004 @ 1:07pm

            Re: Competition

            Why would A.C. support that? He, like yourself, seems to oppose taxpayer supported government services.
            First, I believe Coward was being sarcastic, which is why he used much of my text in his post.

            Second, I don't necessarily oppose taxpayer funding of things. I was suggesting why businesses might oppose it.

            By the way, haven't you ever heard of toll roads?
            Nope. What are they? (Yes, that was also sarcasm.)

            Seriously, I thought of mentioning toll roads in my post, but those are typically run by the government anyway. I realize there are a few that are private or quasi-private, but how many exist today?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Luis del Pozo, 30 Nov 2004 @ 3:07pm

    I'm so glad I left...

    Being an independent software developer and the owner of a small consulting firm, I am SO HAPPY I left my country (Spain) to look for projects elsewhere. Even in tiny Costa Rica, in the middle of Central America, I have found more freedom to be an entrepreneur than in Spain, where the government will do whatever it f***ing can to destroy independent thinking and creativity (unless you are the producer of a crappy reality show on tv, or the president of Telefonica). Anyway...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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