Let's look at public utilities in Gib - gas, electricity, water and telecommunications. No this is not boring, this is very relevant to today's current news post!
First things first. There is no natural gas, the only gas is bottled, ie butane. With the majority of people living in flats, often without lifts, electricity tends to be the most common energy supply used in homes. Restaurants, bars and clubs tend to use gas however.
Electricity is provided by Gibraltar's own power station, and a new one is set to come on stream in 2011. Gibraltar Electricity Authority (Gibelec) is responsible for generation, distribution and supply of electricity. Electricity is one of the products in Gib that is relatively expensive.
Water is perhaps the most interesting of the utilities. Courtesy of the Gib govt web site:
There are no permanent natural water supplies in Gibraltar, main sources used to be the water catchments on the rock face,
Old water catchments...
which collected rainwater and supplied the reservoirs hollowed out inside the Rock, and wells on the sandy plain to the north. The main supply is currently provided by an efficient number of distillers, distilling sea water located at the North Mole.
Water is provided by AquaGib and there are two parallel supplies - one of distilled seawater for drinking water, and one of seawater for such things as toilets, fire hydrants, and various other non-drinking water supplies. The water supply is worth a post in its own right, but not for today.
Call me ....
Telecommunications. The major provider in Gibraltar is Gibtelecom. Yes everything here does include 'Gib' in the name. It's still known locally as Gibtel which was one of its predecessors.
Gibtelecom has a turnover of around £31.5M. It is owned jointly by the government of Gibraltar, and Telekom Slovenije, which bought a 50% shareholding in 2007.
There are almost 90 fixed lines per 100 population, and Gibtelecom also provides mobile and internet services. More than 80% of households have an internet link.
Of course telecommunications has been a source of controversy between Spain and Gibraltar. Although Gib was allocated its own International Direct Dialling (IDD) code back in the 70s Spain refused to acknowledge it.
When IDD was introduced in Spain, Gib was included as part of the Spanish numbering system, with a code of 9567. Even a few years ago, we were ringing this code from Spain.
In a nutshell this meant that only 30,000 numbers could be dialled from Spain and led to a shortage of new numbers that could be allocated to Gib residents. And at the same time, international callers using cheap rates that went via Spain, meant that callers either heard the Gib number didn't exist, or if they were connected - Telefonica (Spanish company) kept the profits.
And as for mobiles. Well, Gibtelecom was prevented from roaming agreements with Spanish operators.
Same old story?
The Cordoba Agreement of 2006 removed these restrictions (and included a whole load of other stuff) and it finally came into force in 2007. So now Gib really really has its own IDD and we can even get roaming in Spain. Note when roaming in Spain, please choose any other operator than grasping Telefonica.
Today's news story.
Well only that Señor Sanchez wants a piece of Gib's arse via the telecoms industry.
According to the Gib Chronicle:
Having watered down his controversial plan to charge visitors to the Rock, Alejandro Sánchez, the mayor of La Linea, has now set his eyes on another element of the Gibraltarian economy in his effort to find revenue streams for his cash-strapped town.
The mayor said he would ask Spain's Ministry for Foreign Affairs and its Finance Ministry for details on the income generated in Gibraltar by online gaming.
The mayor said this business would not have been possible without the Cordoba agreement, which radically expanded the number of phone lines available to Gibraltar. He also noted that fibre optic lines linking Gibraltar to the world run through La Linea.
With that in mind, the mayor wants a slice of the action.
"La Linea wants to know what it is getting in return, given that without those cables passing through our town, that business would not exist today," the town council said in a statement at the weekend.
No doubt Señor Sánchez has taken into account the income taken by Telefonica, resulting from the restrictions previously placed on Gibraltar by Spain ?
Why on earth is anyone claiming financial compensation for some other country's industry just because something goes through their land/air space/sea space (sore point that one)? Oh. Because they are short of money. And Gib is a profitable on-line gaming centre. So what? Nothing to do with La Linea. At all.
And, regarding yesterday's post about what is anyone in the UK actually doing for Gibraltar? Well it seems William Hague gave a short speech at the Tory Party Conference saying that in his election campaign he had stated he he would not let Gibraltar down, and that now he was in government he intended to defend Gib's interests strongly.
Hmm hope so.
Territorial waters dispute soon. Honest.
3 days ago