Free Wi-Fi on Madrid buses

Madrileños now have access to free Wi-Fi service on municipal buses, thanks to a partnership between the Empresa Municipal de Transportes (EMT) of the city of Madrid and GOWEX, a Spanish company. You can find more information on www.buswifi.com. I have just returned from a trip to Barcelona where I met with a couple of telecommunications experts who denounced the slow, expensive broadband service in Spain. Telefonica, the former telecom monopoly, still maintains a huge market share and the national government is not doing enough to create a more competitive, dynamic market. Some regions such as Catalunya (whose capital is Barcelona) are trying to roll out fiber networks and push operators to deploy FTTH, but they are running into the “Telefonica problem”, a giant mastodon blocking the road to progress.

In Barcelona, there are a few cafes with Wi-Fi but Wi-Fi is not nearly as widely available as in London, Paris, Amsterdam or Berlin. On the Balearic islands of Ibiza and Mallorca, the state of Wi-Fi and wired broadband access is even more grim.

Side note: the opening of an Apple retail shop on the pedestrian shopping street, Calle Syndicator, on Palma de Mallorca last week drew massive crowds. I was walking down this street and from a distance, I thought there was a pop star or reality show celebrity signing autographs at one of the music stores nearby, but as I got closer, I realized most of the people pressing to get in looked like geeks. The same Apple mania, this time in Palma!