The EU has announced the first funding call and online platform for its WiFi4EU programme, which will offer funding for WiFi hotspots in public places around Europe.
The WiFi4EU programme will mobilise €120m in funding before 20202 to install free, public WiFi services across all EU member states, as well as Norway and Iceland. The programme aims to fulfil the EU’s ambitions to ensure that all citizens have access to high quality internet by 2020.
As well as increasing the availability of wireless internet for EU citizens, there are a number of advantages for the networks funded by WiFi4EU calls over other WiFi networks. For example, unlike many available networks, WiFi4EU networks will:
- Be free of charge to use;
- Not feature advertising; and
- Not personal data of users.
Further, funding with not be provided to networks in areas where similar free private or public offers already exist.
Who can apply?
European municipalities which are eligible for the WiFi4EU programme can sign up now at the scheme’s web portal. The first call will launch in mid-May, at which point registered municipalities will be able to apply.
The first call will consist of 1,000 WiFi4EU vouchers, each worth €15,000. These will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, although the commission will also take into account geographic balance to ensure maximum coverage.
What has the commission said about the announcement?
Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, said that the announcement represented a concrete step towards the establishment of the EU’s digital single market, as well as the first stage of an overhaul of the EU’s telecoms rules.
She said: “The WiFi4EU initiative will give thousands of Europeans free internet access in public spaces across the EU. Thanks to the WiFi4EU programme, local communities will be empowered to bring connectivity closer to citizens, allowing them to fully benefit from the endless opportunities of digitisation. It is a concrete step towards the realisation of the Digital Single Market.”