European citizens will have access to more free WiFi following Brussels’ decision to provide funding to cities, towns, and villages across the EU to set up hotspots in public places that will include parks, squares, and public buildings.
According to the Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Mariya Gabriel, 1,000 locales across Europe will be in a position to claim €15,000 worth of Wifi vouchers for 2018.
“We are not here to duplicate a service that exists…there is a very clear objective to have connectivity throughout Europe, which can benefit every region and every citizen,” said Gabriel.
The €120 million WiFi4U scheme comes on the heels of an earlier announced plan by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to provide free wireless internet access to major public places across Europe by 2020.
“This is an important step towards the realisation of a digital single market,” said Gabriel.
From March 20, interested municipalities can apply on a specialised website for Wifi vouchers that are expected to be handed over by mid-May.
“Large parts of Europe already have good connections, but there are also municipalities where that is not the case. The added value of our project is that we enable these regions to catch up with the rest of the EU. We want fully-functioning connectivity across Europe.”
Brussels has not been able to guarantee equal geographical distribution for the networks, but each Member State has an 8% cap of the total budget allocated during the first round and can only receive benefits once.