The European Commission invites municipal authorities across Europe to apply for funding to build free wireless Internet hotspots in public spaces under its WiFi4EU program.
Municipalities can register on the newly launched www.WiFi4EU.eu portal. The first call will be launched in May, when registered municipalities can apply for a first lot of 1,000 WiFi4EU vouchers – at 15,000 euros each – to be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Commission will then announce the 1,000 municipalities that will receive funding through the first call. Each participating country will receive at least 15 vouchers. Municipalities can use the WiFi4EU vouchers to purchase and install Wi-Fi equipment in their chosen spaces but will be required to cover the costs for network maintenance.
Four more WiFi4EU calls will be launched in the next two years.
The WiFi4EU initiative will offer high-speed Internet access at public services such as libraries, hospitals, public administration offices as well as at outdoor spaces accessible to the general public.
WiFi4EU-funded networks will be free of charge, free of advertising and free of personal data harvesting.
“Thanks to the WiFi4EU program, 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 realization of the Digital Single Market,” said European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel.
A total of 120 million euros is available from the EU budget until 2020 to fund equipment for public free Wi-Fi services in up to 8,000 municipalities across the EU.
The aim of the WiFi4EU initiative, according to President Jean-Claude Juncker, is to connect “every European village and every city with free wireless Internet access around the main centres of public life by 2020”.