30.10.2014

Free Wi-Fi in public spaces and transport? Barcelona expands its network

Free Wi-Fi in public spaces and transport? Barcelona expands its network

Image | City of Barcelona

Barcelona is a “mobile” city, a pioneer in connectivity and smart projection, as demonstrated by initiatives such as the installation of sensors on large avenues and the transformation of the city into a large mobile laboratory.

With a view to converting the city into a world leader in the use of ICTs, and driven by its role as the world capital of mobile technology, and the first European capital of innovation (iCapital), Barcelona announces an ambitious Wi-Fi Service Deployment Plan in public spaces. In 2015 the City will invest 3.6 million euros to expand on the 664 Wi-Fi points present and interconnect other networks, for a total of 1,527, in this way responding to citizens’ new needs. Barcelona’s system of free Internet access will thus become the country’s largest public Wi-Fi network, and one of Europe’s most important.

The evolution of Barcelona’s Wi-Fi network

5 years ago Barcelona made available to its citizens a free “Barcelona Wi-Fi” service, allowing them unlimited access to the Internet, at a speed determined by regulations in force. Today the service sees an average of 100,000 users per month, who access the network some 250,000 times.

Free Wi-Fi in public spaces and transport? Barcelona expands its network

Graphic on the evolution of user numbers | City of Barcelona

Looking ahead to 2015, the City’s plan calls for 4 major initiatives in 4 specific areas of the city, selected based on information regarding citizens’ mobile use. These spaces are readily accessible to the public, popular and regularly visited.

The deployment of the access points will be carried out in 2 phases:

  • Phase 1
    Public Transport and Parks and Gardens: 1,130 buses and 16 metro stations will include Wi-Fi connections, and 220 additional zones in different parks and gardens, favoring those with spaces dedicated to playgrounds. Implementation in the parks will be completed before the summer of 2015, while on public transport it will be ongoing, finalizing in 2016.

  • Phase 2
    Municipal Markets and the Port of Barcelona: While a range of markets already have connections, free Wi-Fi will now be expanded to 21 of the 40 existing markets. It is also foreseen that the 11 docks in the port area will have its Wi-Fi connection.

Free Wi-Fi in public spaces and transport? Barcelona expands its network

Image | City of Barcelona

The wireless access to the Internet that Barcelona will provide is yet one more opportunity to
improve the services that the city makes available to the citizens, and also is a mesure settled to attract more tourism. Soon everybody will be able to surf for free on public transport, in markets, and at the most frequented areas. Another one of the network’s main objectives is to uniformize digital coverage in the city’s different neighborhoods so that all citizens can benefit from the service in the same way.

With this initiative Barcelona is much closer to standing as a model to follow in terms of city management, a characteristic that is absolutely essential during the era of mobile technology.