The European Parliament’s industry committee announced today it is backing a plan to offer free Wi-Fi connectivity in public spaces such as parks, squares and public buildings everywhere in Europe through WiFi4EU.
The initiative, which was launched by the European Commission under the heading ‘WiFi4Eu – Free Wi-Fi for Europeans’, aims at bringing high-quality wireless internet access to at least 6000-8000 local communities and has a total planned budget of €120m until 2020. It will provide internet access for locals, visitors and tourists in parks, squares, libraries or public buildings.
One of the amendments imposed to the initial text was that they said users of the free wifi hotspots should be informed of the contribution of EU money.
S&D MEP Carlos Zorrinho, author of the report on WiFi4EU, said:
“Every European should benefit from Wi-Fi connectivity no matter where they live or how much they earn. Ensuring access to high-speed broadband services through a Wi-Fi that is free of charge and free from restrictions is key for building a digital union where no one is left behind.
“As a pilot project, WiFi4EU can pave the way for increasing connectivity for European citizens. This is why it is important to get this project right from the get-go: by ensuring a geographical balance between and within member states; by setting up a single authentication system that is valid in the whole of the EU; and by promoting digital inclusion and the blueprint for a European digital identity.”
S&D MEP Josef Weidenholzer, spokesman on the digital union, added:
“WiFi4EU is a first step towards equipping every European village and every city with free wireless internet access in public spaces. As progressives, we want as many Europeans as possible to benefit from the digital revolution and have access to the information society.”
The proposal was drafted last September, after the Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker announced in his annual State of the European Union speech that “every European village and every city” should have free wifi by 2020.
The parliament’s industry committee gave Portuguese MEP Carlos a mandate to begin talks with the national governments in order to reach a compromise on how the money would be split.