On 29 May 2017, a political agreement has been reached over the WiFi4EU initiative, which promises high-quality internet access and free Wi-Fi hotspots for 6 000-8 000 European local communities.
The EU negotiators agreed on providing Wi-Fi connectivity to both citizens and visitors in public spaces such as parks, libraries, squares or public and health institutions, which will also accelerate implementation of local digital services including eGovernment, eHealth or eTourism.
The initial budget of the project is €120 million for 2017-2019, with the whole initiative being funded by Connecting Europe Facility Instrument. Any public sector stakeholder and local municipality can apply, if they would like to offer Wi-Fi in the areas where there is no such private or public service yet, or if they need funding for community Wi-Fi connection that will be available for at least 3 years. The EU will cover 100% of the costs for the equipment and installation of hotspots, while the local authorities shall pay for the internet subscription and maintenance.
First online call for applications should be launched towards the end of 2017 or at the beginning of 2018 and should offer €20 million for around 1 000 municipalities. The whole call is to be based on first-come, first-served basis and one voucher per community system to ensure that all Member States can benefit from the projects. You can find more information about the initiative including FAQ here.