The City of Malaga is studying the prospect of installing Wi-Fi access around the city and has received a blow from Spain’s telecom governing body, the Comisión del Mercado de las Telecomunicaciones (Telecommunications Market Commission). The proposal was to install access points inside municipal facilities with short-range access (30-100 meters), making this access limited to those physically present inside the buildings. It would consist of free and unlimited access to all city websites and limited general internet access, with security blocking against file-sharing programs. Those wishing to access the internet for mail, chat or other general-purpose browsing would have to request a time-limited username and password.
The Commission’s 8-page response includes some of the following:
- the requirement that the City of Malaga be registered as an operator, since they would be providing internet service via username/password
- providing free access would endanger the nature of open-market comptetition to a similar service
- limiting the offered service to accessing only municipal pages would not be prohibited, since this has an EU precedent from a similar request granted to the City of Prague
Nevertheless, Malaga’s mayor Francisco de la Torre is resisting the negative response and has committed to study out all possible legal possibilities of the initiative, determined to succeed. He mentioned another initiative that has begun called the WiMAX project, which would offer internet access for a cost, but which would greatly surpass the speed of simple Wi-Fi. (WiMAX is full-on broadband access using wireless radio frequencies.) WiMAX is emerging in other areas with test beds in cities such as Amsterdam (offered in the city’s centre for 20€ / month) and Portland, Oregon (USA), a key city in the international WiMAX Forum.
Discussion of a WiMAX solution brings to mind questions about the cost of new wireless cards and the feasibility for visitors, as this technology is too new for many consumers to have their laptops outfitted already. Of course, the mayor didn’t offer anything to assuage these issues. We can only assume those concerns will be addressed after a contract is signed.