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RealTime IT News

Spain's PM Worried About Net Lag

As Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar told Net user groups this week that he worries about a Spanish slowdown in cyberspace, his public works minister announced plans for reduced Internet access rates.

Addressing attendees at the Internet '99 conference via a slightly jerky Netcast, Aznar said that despite his satisfaction with the spectacular growth in Spanish Net use, he is "worried that Spanish use on the Net could fall behind."

"I think all of us--the administration, companies, professionals and users--should increase our cooperation" to ensure a greater Spanish presence online, he said.

Aznar announced four objectives: to promote Spanish content on the Web; to facilitate communication among Spanish-speakers worldwide; to promote the "internationalization" of Spanish companies; and to promote the spread of Spanish language and culture. He also made a nod to ongoing negotiations between the government and user groups for flat rate Net access.

"I sincerely hope that the reduction of the costs of Internet access sees the light of day and becomes reality in the shortest time possible," said Aznar. "I hope that the job of Public Works comes to a conclusion as quickly as possible."

Rafael Arias Salgado, minister of Public Works and the Economy, announced that within the next few days, "The Delegates' Commission of Economic Affairs will approve two Internet access programs. This means a substantial reduction in rates for those who surf the Internet for periods of either eight or 50 hours."

He added that shortcoming meetings of the commission will pave the way for "the gradual implantation of a flat rate for Net use," using new technology to separate voice calls from data calls.

The Fourth National Conference of Internet and Intranet Users--held in Madrid, February 3 through 6--was organized by Spain's Association of Internet Users. In addition to offering Net-related seminars and exhibitions, the conference also honored the best Spanish Web sites, as chosen by online vote.

The award for the best Web site went to the Seat car manufacturer's site [www.ibiza.seat.es]. The best personal Web page went to Gabriel Lacomba. The best leisure and entertainment page was that of Festa Major. The company that best integrated the Internet into its business strategy was the Diario de Cadiz newspaper.