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Europe to splash €120m on free WiFi for ~8,000 villages and cities

Liberté, égalité, connectivité

By Simon Sharwood, 31 May 2017

The European Parliament, Council and Commission have all decided that the in-El Reg's-view-inexplicable WiFi4EU project is a fine idea worthy of €120m to ensure “every European village and every city with free wireless internet ac­cess around the main centres of public life by 2020."

The agreement between the Parliament, Council and Commission will see “6,000 to 8,000 municipalities” offered the chance to participate in a “simple and non-bureaucratic process” that will see them handed the cash needed to buy, install and maintain WiFi kit for three years. Cities and towns have to pay for internet services themselves.

The initial factsheet for the project said it would bring WiFi to “parks, squares, libraries, public buildings to benefit citizens and institutions with a public mission.”

That language is absent from the canned statement about the funding for the project. But we do get the caveat that grants under the scheme will only be made in “areas where a similar public or private offer does not yet exist.” Locales where municipal WiFi is already up and running therefore need not apply. It's unclear, however, if the scheme will allow overbuild in places where private WiFi operators offer service.

The scheme's justified on equity and economic development grounds, and also as part of Europe's telecoms reforms that aim to make customers' experiences the same across the Union. ®

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