The EU announced this ambitious project back in mid-2017: EUR 120 million of European funding will help communities across the EU to setup free Wi-Fi hotspots for citizens. The name: WiFi4EU.
Now the time has come. Since last week, municipalities and IT service providers have been able to register for WiFi4EU. The actual application phase for the EUR 15,000 funding vouchers starts in May.
In focus: Cities and municipalities
The vouchers should assist up to 8,000 municipalities in the European Union to install Wi-Fi hotspots in public facilities and spaces, such as parks, libraries and health centers. The goal: To offer high-performance and free public Wi-Fi access in every village and city in the EU by 2020.
It is very easy for interested municipalities to get involved: On March 20, the EU opened the portal for the pre-registration. Any municipality wishing to apply for one of the funding vouchers can register there. The actual application phase for the first installment, which will initially support 1,000 projects, is due to start on May 15.
The money can be used to purchase new equipment or to upgrade older hotspot installations. The voucher can also be used to partially finance more ambitious projects. In return, beneficiaries agree to finance the Internet access and maintenance of the components for at least three years. This is to ensure that a free and high-quality Wi-Fi hotspot is actually available to citizens for the longer term.
It’s important to be quick on May 15. Funding is being awarded based on two principles: Firstly, first-come, first-serve, and secondly, the observation of regional distribution. This is to ensure that subsidies are distributed as evenly as possible across the EU. Four more application phases are due to follow by 2020, until when the remaining vouchers will be awarded.
Great opportunity for Wi-Fi system vendors
Particularly attractive for system vendors: They can also register on the WiFi4EU website and offer their services to the municipalities as partners for the hotspot projects. The EU will publish the list of registered service providers on the Internet so that communities easily find out about suitable system vendors. This is a great opportunity for specialist resellers to present themselves and to acquire projects in the municipal sector—all without any marketing costs.
The interest in the subsidized Wi-Fi hotspots is enormous: So far more than 4,000 municipalities have pre-registered on the WiFi4EU website. And we can assume that many of them will seize the opportunity on May 15 to be among the first applicants.
PS: We are currently working on a Wi-Fi package that will make WiFi4EU particularly attractive. We will have more about this in good time for the start of the application phase.
PPS: You find a short clip about the WiFi4EU project by the European commission on YouTube.
NOTE: this blog has been translated and adapted from the original German article on “Auf ein Wort” by Ralf Koenzen.