Municipalities can receive EU funding to create public wi-fi spots

The European Commission launched the WiFi4EU web portal. As of now, municipalities are invited to register their details ahead of the first call for projects in mid-May, for the chance to benefit from EU financing to build free public wireless internet hotspots.

The WiFi4EU programme offers vouchers worth €15,000 for municipalities to set up Wi-Fi hotspots in public spaces, including libraries, museums, public parks, squares. Municipalities can use the WiFi4EU vouchers to purchase and install Wi-Fi equipment (wireless access points) in their chosen centres of local public life. WiFi4EU-funded networks will be free of charge, free of advertising and free of personal data harvesting.

€120 million is available from the EU budget until 2020 to fund equipment for public free Wi-Fi services in up to 8,000 municipalities in all Member States as well as Norway and Iceland.

How to apply for a WiFi4EU voucher?

  • Registration phase: As of 20 March 2018, municipalities should sign up on the portal;
  • Application phase: In mid-May 2018, the first call will be launched and registered municipalities can apply for a first lot of 1,000 WiFi4EU vouchers (€15,000 each). The vouchers will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis;
  • Assignment phase: ensuring a geographic balance, the Commission will announce the 1,000 municipalities that will receive funding through the first call. Each participating country will receive at least 15 vouchers.
  • In the coming two years, four more WiFi4EU calls will be launched. 

Thanks to the WiFi4EU program, local communities will be empowered to bring connectivity closer to citizens, allowing them to benefit fully from the endless opportunities of digitization.

Improving access to high-speed and very-high-speed broadband and consequently to online services increases quality of life by facilitating access to services, for example e-Health and e-Government, and promotes the development of local small and medium-sized enterprises.

Such access points make an important contribution to the improvement of current wireless communication networks and to the deployment of future generations of such networks by facilitating a more granular coverage in line with evolving needs.

Luxembourg is one of the front runners concerning free wifi hotspots:  Since the Luxembourg presidency in 2015, Luxembourg City and the University site of Belval each have a free public wifi. Today, free wifi hotspots are also available in Esch-sur-Alzette, Dudelange, Käerjeng, Grevenmacher and Rumelange.

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