Catalan Internet project ‘Guifi.net’ wins European Broadband Award
The Catalan project 'Guifi.net', based on an open Internet, was amongst the five winners at the first edition of the European Broadband Awards. It was awarded best project in the category on innovative model of financing, business and investment. 'Guifi.net' was founded in 2004 and aimed to connect those rural areas in Catalonia and in the rest of the Iberian Peninsula which had difficulties getting a good Internet service. Now, it is present in more than 30,000 homes. Its president, Ramon Roca, regarded the prize as “a recognition of more than 12 years of hard work”. A total of 48 projects from 17 Member States took part in the European Broadband Award’s competition, an initiative aiming to identify the five best projects of high-speed broadband networks – the so-called Next Generation Networks (NGN) delivering at least 30 Mbps in urban, suburban and rural areas.
Barcelona (CNA).- 'Guifi.net', the Catalan project based on an open and community Internet, has won at the first ever European Broadband Awards. It was awarded best project in the category on innovative model of financing, business and investment.'Guifi.net' was founded in 2004 in the municipality of Vic, 60 km north of Barcelona, and adopted a model of investment that successfully managed to engage volunteers, internet services providers, and public administrations together in new development prospects for the rural economy. Other similar projects that adopted the same model are now spreading across other parts of rural Spain. This prize is “a recognition of more than 12 years of hard work” stated 'Guifi.net's president, Ramon Roca. The European Broadband Awards were launched by the European Commission and aim to promote the exchange of good practices in order to achieve the European broadband targets for 2020: 100% coverage of 30 Mbps and 50% household penetration of 100 Mbps.
More than 30,000 homes, mostly in Catalonia but also in other parts of the Iberian Peninsula, are now connected by ‘Guifi.net’. The initiative aimed to connect those isolated rural areas which couldn’t have Wi-Fi access and has grown exponentially since then. Lately, they have added optic fibre stretches and all this growth has been based on a collaborative economy model. The stakeholders cooperated by pooling resources together to deploy a high-quality service through a mix-of FTTH and radio wave links in remote, very rural and disadvantaged areas in the municipality of Vic, in Catalonia in Spain.
The representatives of 'Guifi.net'received the award in Brussels from the European Commissioner responsible for the Digital Economy and Society, Günther H. Oettinger. Besides the company’s founders, members from Osona’s Regional Council, the area where 'Guifi.net' was launched, also attended the ceremony. “The fact that 'Guifi.net' successfully brought Internet to many rural villages is reflected in Osona, which is the region with the best penetration of internet connections, above the European average” stated representative for the communication and new technologies area of Osona’s Regional Council, Carles Banús.
48 projects from 17 Member States were submitted and covered all types of technologies and sizes; from nationwide projects to small community-led projects in rural areas. They were evaluated by a jury of five international experts in the fields of broadband, telecommunications, systems science, economics and management. The five winners of the 2015 European Broadband Awards will showcase best practices to many project promoters across Europe at local, regional and national level through a number of events and conferences.
The other winners at the first edition were: ‘Breitband Nordhessen’ in Germany, awarded best project in the category of cost reduction and co-investment; ‘RAIN II’ in Lithuania, awarded best project in the category on socio-economic impact and affordability; ‘CAI Harderwijk’ in The Netherlands, which won the prize for open access and competition; and ‘Stokab’ in Stockholm, Sweden, which was acclaimed as the best project in the category on future proof and quality of service.