Friday, November 24, 2006

Gonna get myself connected

Sometime soon WiFi could solve our Internet connection problems. Ah! Mañana the Spanish equivalent of never never land.

Life in a small village on the edge of a city sharpens your perspective on the divide between town and country dwelling. Those everyday things the norms of modern living are often denied you, utilities like gas, electricity and water supplies can not be taken for granted in rural Spain. The telephone too can remain out of reach. Read the forum pages of any expat web site and they are full of people trying to work around the problems they encounter obtaining a supply of any of those services.

Our own experiences in this area. We waited over eighteen months for someone to move an electric meter twenty yards the cable was already in place, and as usual everybody was waiting for somebody and nobody did it! Still, at least the meter has been moved it took less than half an hour to complete the task; and everybody, somebody and nobody had the good grace to be more than a little embarrassed over the fiasco.

It does get cold here, although according to the local people the winter lasts only three weeks. Heating your home with gas is almost laughable. A Romanian guy delivered my gas bottles; yes that’s right bottled gas in 2006. He could not believe that in this day and age cities like Figueres had no piped gas supply, back in Romania piped gas was the norm in even small towns. Here the pipes are going to be installed in 2007, here in Figueres that is, not in the villages of course not even sometime soon.

The telephone was an essential requirement for Carol, when we bought the house we asked specifically about the phone connection, the working phone was demonstrated for us. On purchase of the property we found that La Señora had taken not only the telephone but also the telephone line, a set of radiators and steps for the swimming pool.

Always intending to buy our own telephone apparatus the telephone equipment was not an immediate concern, the line however was. The village telephone installation was over subscribed and until the system was replaced there was no possibility of having a phone. We could see that our house was wired to the system but we could not be allocated a number. Still a brand new telephone system would surely mean up to date facilities whenever the work was completed.

After several months the work was completed on the new telephone exchange we could in theory obtain a number. Work on the house was continuing, (You can see the photographs of the stages we went through by following link to Spain Villa on this page) and it was at this stage we had the windows and doors replaced.

During the installation of one of those doors the telephone line was severed at the point it entered the house. The line had previously been inserted into a hole in the old wooden door frame and then glued into position, so when the frame was then removed the line was severed. The new fittings were aluminium this meant that the telephone cable would have to be fed through a 9" thick concrete wall, and then joined.

Telefonica’s new exchange is not so new after all. We can not have an ADSL line at the moment not even sometime soon. What was mid twentieth technology is still state of the art in much of rural Spain.

We had to pay for the installation as if it was new connection, Telefonica staff should wear masks! The connection was bodged by drilling through the corner of the masonry and the cable glued to the wall. This of course means that only the paintwork is holding it up.

On the edge of the village is a large factory which will supply paper products to the hotel and catering industry it is a business dependent upon fast communication with its clients and prospective customers. The factory will bring employment to the area and is a welcome development. They can not have their required internet connection.

The mayor has made unsuccessful representations to the telephone company about this absurd situation. The one remaining hope is WiFi (I say YFI they say wee fee)

The cluster of four small villages in our vicinity may one day become a WiFi zone. Ah! Mañana.

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