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EU agrees scheme for free wifi in public places

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EU agrees scheme for free wifi in public places

Photo © ktsdesign - Fotolia

(BRUSSELS) - EU Parliament and Council negotiators came to an agreement Monday evening on WiFi4EU, a scheme for more than 5,000 wireless internet connections in public areas across the European Union.

The EU-sponsored scheme 'WiFi4EU' will promote free internet in town halls, hospitals, parks and other public places. An easily recognisable, multilingual WiFi4EU portal will provide users with a free, secure high-speed internet connection. The local authority or other public body offering the connection can use the portal to provide easy access to their digital services.

"High-speed broadband access to Wi-Fi services free of charge is key to building a Digital Union that does not leave anyone behind," said the Parliament's rapporteur Carlos Zorrinho MEP: "As a pilot project, WiFi4EU can lead the way for an effective connectivity for EU citizens."

The informal deal between the EU institutions includes:

  • the creation of a single authentication system valid throughout the EU;
  • funds to be deployed in a "geographically balanced manner" across member states and on a "first come, first served" basis;
  • public wireless access points (libraries, public administrations, hospitals) may be funded only if users are allowed to connect without any direct or indirect payment (commercial advertising or use of personal data for commercial purposes);
  • public bodies should cover operating costs for at least three years and offer a free, easy to access and secure connectivity to users to be eligible, and;
  • projects duplicating similar free private or public offers in the same area are excluded from this financial support.

The draft deal still needs to be approved by the Parliament and the Council before the legislation enters into force.

 

Further information, European Parliament

Procedure file - Draft report on the promotion of Internet connectivity in local communities

EPRS Briefing - WiFi4EU Promotion of internet connectivity in local communities


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