EU €120 million for free WiFi4EU
“The WiFi4EU scheme will make high-quality internet more accessible for many citizens and gives local municipalities, libraries and other public bodies the opportunity to promote their digital services. It could even trigger a virtuous investment cycle.” Said Urve Palo, Minister for Entrepreneurship and Information Technology of Estonia.
The EU will sponsor free wireless internet access points in town halls, libraries, parks and other public places under a new scheme called WiFi4EU, which was adopted by the Council. An easily recognisable multilingual WiFi4EU portal will provide access to a secure high-speed connection in at least 6 000 local communities across the EU by 2020. An informal agreement on the scheme was reached with the European Parliament in May this year.
Under the scheme, municipalities, hospitals and other public sector bodies will be able to apply for funding for the installation of new Wi-Fi access points where there is no similar existing private or public internet connection that would be duplicated by the new hotspot. The public body must also commit to maintaining the new connection for at least three years. The procedure to apply will be simple – there will be a dedicated online platform managed by the Commission – and support from the EU will cover up to 100% of the eligible costs.
Total EU funding for the scheme could reach €120 million by 2019. It will be allocated in a geographically balanced manner across all EU countries and, in principle, on a first-come, first-served basis. The exact selection criteria will be laid down by the Commission, which will also manage the scheme.
The first call for projects is expected to be launched towards the end of the year or in early 2018.