Aug 27 2009

Free Wifi in Barcelona – a new council sponsored scheme

Look for the Barcelona wifi signs to log on

Look for the Barcelona wifi signs to log on

Free Wi-fi is not difficult to get hold of in Barcelona – your hotel here might offer it or, if not, there are many cafés that do (click here for our reviews of some of the best).  But things just got a whole lot easier with the introduction of the Barcelona Wifi scheme, a council initiative which places free wifi points in public buildings and areas around the city.

The council web site is handily translated to English and has a clickable map of the wifi points.

Unfortunately, as with just about everything to do with Barcelona Council, it’s not quite as easy as it first seems:  there can be significant restrictions on the use of the internet, which differ by location. For most locations access is limited to the council’s web site plus one hour of internet access a day – an hour which you can dip in and out of for the whole day.  There are a few points where the access time is unlimited, but they are not identified on the council site, so it’s slightly pot luck.

For all locations, only web pages (http/https for the techies among you) are allowed to be accessed, so you will not be able to pick up emails using Outlook or any similar programme.  However, you can access web mail.

The types of location split down like this:

  • Public places – the best place to connect is a public place such as a park or market (the first draft of this post is being written in the beautiful Parc de la Ciutadella).  Just find the point, connect to it, open a browser, agree to the terms and you are away.
  • Public buildings – similar access to the public places, but it can be a little awkward just turning up at a council office and plonking yourself in the middle of the building somewhere to do your surfing.
  • Libraries (Bibliotecas) – the libraries we have visited have required you to be a member – to get online you have to enter your library card number and national insurance number to get access.  So best avoided for the moment.

All in all, we applaud the Council for their forward looking attitude – particularly as they are restricted by law in what they can do.  However, it’s not quite the free for all it seems and a bit more clarity on the access at each point would make it a whole lot easier.

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