Spain Pushes Public Net Access

In an effort to bring the Internet to disadvantaged sectors of society, Spain’s government has announced plans to fund public access endeavors and improved infrastructure in rural areas.

In order “to bring the information society to all Spaniards,” and
“to put Spain in the leading pack of developed nations,” industry minister
and government spokesman Josep Pique has announced plans to spend 450
billion pesetas ($2.8 billion) over the next three years.

The plan “Info XXI: The Information Society for Everyone,” aims to
establish a network of public Net access points in libraries, educational
institutions, and rural areas. In addition to providing all of Spain’s
schools with computers, the government promises that towns with fewer than
50,000 inhabitants will see the introduction of high-bandwidth access.

According to Pique, the plan will connect three million Spanish
homes to the Internet “with quality at accessible prices.”
Moreover, the public records of 400 towns will be digitalized over the next
three years and all Spaniards will have access to the health system and
other government services via the Net.

Part of the government funding will go toward training 125,000 new
teachers of Information Technology. It will also push for a greater
proliferation of e-commerce and toward reducing risks through the use of
digital signatures.

While current Spanish-language Internet content is less than five
percent, the government stated its “goal of reaching, in three years,
15 percent [of Net] content in our language.”

The plan has earmarked 140 billion pesetas ($875 million) in
expenses for the year 2000.

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