Funding has been secured to introduce free Wifi hotspots to public spaces in Ireland after 105 Irish City and County Councils applied to the EU scheme. Ireland will now be guaranteed at least 15 vouchers in this round.
The EU is making €120 million available for local authorities over the next three years as part of the Wifi4EU scheme. Local authorities were invited to apply for vouchers worth €15,000 to provide free public wi-fi in town centres, parks, libraries and museums. The EU announced that 105 Irish municipalities applied.
Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune said: “There was a lot of interest in this scheme from around Europe. €120 million will available for up to 8,000 Local Authorities across the EU by 2020. This is another great initiative from the EU which aims to improve access to the internet for citizens. In this round 2,800 municipalities will receive vouchers of €15,000 to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot in a public space.”
The first WiFi4EU call for proposals that took place from 7 – 9 November 2018 was very popular with more than 13,000 applications on the portal. As a result of this first round, with the total budget of €42 million, 2,800 municipalities will receive vouchers of €15,000 to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot in public spaces. Over 4,000 Local Authorities applied within the first 10 seconds of the opening of the call on 7 November.
Following the applications, the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA), the Commission’s executive agency in charge of implementing the WiFi4EU programme, is making the necessary checks of the admissibility and eligibility of the municipalities. Then the Commission will announcing the winning Councils in December.
MEP Clune added: “The beneficiaries will be selected on a first-come, first-served basis. Every participating country is guaranteed a minimum of 15 vouchers and can potentially win a maximum of 224 vouchers. With the voucher, the Local Authority will be able to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot in public spaces, including town halls, public libraries, museums, public parks or squares.”
WiFi4EU-funded networks will be free of charge, free of advertising and free of personal data harvesting. Funding will be provided for networks that do not duplicate existing free private or public offers of a similar quality.