MEPs have approved WIFI4EU, a scheme to promote free wi-fi connectivity in public spaces across the EU.
The objective of the WIFI4EU European initiative is to provide more than 6,000 communities across the EU with free high-speed wi-fi connection by 2020. Access to this initiative is reserved to public entities with spaces open to the public such as libraries, hospitals, parks, train stations and bus terminals. They would receive a grant from the EU to set up free wi-fi connection points.
MEPs approved the agreement negotiated with the Council during the plenary session on 12 September. Applications could already be submitted at the beginning of next year.
“This is the opportunity to give a more broad and equal access, more inclusive access to the future for all Europeans — free access to high-quality internet independent of geographical location, independent of how much money they earn,” said Portuguese S&D member Carlos Zorrinho, who is responsible for steering the proposal through Parliament.
The initiative boasts a budget of €120 million, which will be allocated to local communities across Europe on a first come, first served basis.
During negotiations with the Council, representing national governments, Parliament insisted that EU funding could only be used for wireless access points that did not use advertising or commercial use of personal data.
How it will work
The WIFI4EU scheme will provide fund in the form of vouchers for equipment and installation. Public entities that participate in the scheme will have to pay for the connectivity and the maintenance and commit to offer the service for at least three years. Once registered, users will be able to log into all these hotspots.
An EU online platform will be set up to allow public bodies to apply online.