5 Spanish villages fined for providing wi-fi
Spanish site Dos Hermanas Wireless reports that five villages in Girona, northern Spain, that have been bypassed by the telephone companies, decided a few years ago to install their own WiFi networks to provide internet access to residents. The regulator, the Telecommunications Market Commission (CMT) has now fined them for breaking the law, as the service was not notified to and registered with the Commission.
In 2006, the CMT received a number of anonymous emails about some villages (Bordils, Campllong, Espinelves, Fornells de la Selva and Quart) in the Province of Girona offering wireless access to their residents at a price of between six and nine euros per month. The villages had contracted Gesmedia to take charge of building and operating the network infrastructure.
The ambitions of the villages were modest: one or two lines and ADSL for people to meet the demand of a population that in no case was more than a couple of hundred inhabitants. All localities had coverage problems and in some areas connections were not possible.
The local authorities are deemed by CMT have breached section 6.2 of the General Telecommunications Law, which requires those involved in operating a network or providing an electronic communications service to notify the CMT.
The mayor of Campllong (400 inhabitants), Lluís Freixas, was indignant with the CMT’s decision. “We got into this situation by providing a public service, by replacing someone, an agency or operators who have not done their work,” he said. The nearest telephone exchange to the village is three kilometres away and its wiring is old and inadequate, according to the mayor. “There was no coverage,” he adds. In the absence of companies providing a service, they decided to take action themselves, “so people could read their email or use the internet,” he explained.
Some of the local councils told the CMT they were unaware they had to register and all agreed that network operator Gesmedia had not done its job properly. None of the local authorities receive any financial benefit from the service, for which subscribers pay Gesmedia.
Hat tip: Global Freifunk