EU bodies to launch WiFi4EU internet hotspots initiative

Jason McGee-Abe
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The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission have reached a political agreement on the WiFi4EU initiative and its funding which supports installing up to 8,000 free public Wifi hotspots in local communities across the EU

EU - 160 x 186The WiFi4EU programme, which was announced by Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in his State of the Union Address in September 2016, will contribute to the vision of having "every European village and every city with free wireless internet ac­cess around the main centres of public life by 2020,” according to Juncker.

The political agreement includes a commitment by the three institutions to ensure that an overall amount of €120 million shall be assigned to fund equipment for public free Wifi services in 6,000 to 8,000 municipalities in all member states.

The specific sources of the funding will be finalised in the ongoing legislative discussions on the review of the current multiannual financial framework programme. Local authorities will be able to apply for funding once the system is set up.

WiFi4EU initiative is part of the ambitious overhaul of EU telecoms rules including new measures to meet Europeans' growing connectivity needs and boost Europe's competitiveness.

Andrus Ansip, vice-president in charge of the Digital Single Market, welcomed the agreement and said: "The Digital Single Market strategy aims to build a fully connected Europe where everyone has access to high-quality digital networks. 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." GTB