The WiFi4EU initiative feeds into the European Commission’s Digital Single Market ambitions
The European Union (EU) has agreed to set aside 120 million euros (£10m) to fund free Wi-Fi hotspots to bring connectivity to towns and areas lacking Internet coverage.
The scheme was agreed as part of the WiFi4EU initiative between the European Parliament, Council and the Commission to fund the installation of such WiFi hotspots in public areas such as plazas, parks and hospitals.
The initiative feeds into the vision fo the Commission’s president Jean-Claude Juncker to ensure “every European village and every city with free wireless internet access around the main centres of public life by 2020”.
WiFi across the EU
The funding will be allocated to get the equipment needed to setup the free WiFi hotspots in 6,000 to 8,000 municipalities in all of the EU’s member states; whether that includes Britain now that Article 50 has been triggered and Brexit negotiations are underway, has yet to be seen.
The EU explained that getting access to the funding will be a simple, bureaucracy-free process of applying for part of the 120 million euros.
Bringing more Internet access across EU member states all feeds into the Commission’s winder strategy of creating the Digital Single Market, whereby digital services are not limited to certain states and there is freedom to trade them across borders of member states.
“The Digital Single Market strategy aims to build a fully connected Europe where everyone has access to high-quality digital networks,” said Vice-President in charge of the Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip.
“The WiFi4EU initiative will improve connectivity in particular where access to the internet is limited. WiFi4EU is a welcome first step, but much more needs to be done to achieve high-speed connectivity across the whole EU territory – such as improving Europe-wide coordination of spectrum and stimulating investments in the high-capacity networks that Europe needs.”
Despite voting to leave the EU, widespread access to the Internet and superfast broadband in the UK is on the government’s agenda, enshrined in the Tory party’s manifesto and forming the BDUK initiative.
As such, one could argue that Brexit could soon get in the way of funding the UK may have been able to receive from the EU to bolster its Internet connectivity.