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UK Cities and Towns Collect Vouchers to Install Free Public WiFi

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018 (2:50 pm) - Score 1,475

Cities, towns and other UK districts with their own local government will today hopefully be taking part in the first call up for vouchers under the new €120m (£105m) WiFi4EU initiative, which aspires to equip “every European village and city with free WiFi internet access” by 2020.

The scheme enables eligible locations from all over Europe (currently still including the United Kingdom) to secure vouchers worth up to €15,000 (£13,000) per municipality and these can then be used to help cover the cost of installing or upgrading Wi-Fi equipment (wireless access points) in their chosen “centres of public life.

The beneficiaries are being selected on a first-come, first-serve basis, albeit while ensuring that all EU Member States (plus Norway and Iceland) can benefit from a minimum amount of vouchers (each country will obtain a minimum of 15 and maximum of 95 vouchers). So far some 17,000 municipalities across Europe have already registered their interest and today’s first of five calls will see 1,183 of those receiving a voucher.

We should point out that, other than the one-off installation or upgrade cost, the beneficiaries must also commit to pay for the broadband ISP connectivity (internet subscription) and maintenance of the equipment to offer “free and high-quality” Wi-Fi connectivity for at least 3 years.

The funding is only being provided to networks that do not duplicate existing free private or public WiFi offers with a similar quality in the same public space. A list of eligible UK municipalities can be found online and applications can be made via the following website: http://wifi4eu.eu/#/home. It’s currently unclear whether the winning applications will be published online.

However the money will only go so far and it’s previously been stated that €120m should be enough to support equipment for free public Wi-Fi services in up to 8,000 municipalities.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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5 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Meadmodj says:

    Unfortunately “If the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU during the grant period without concluding an agreement with the EU ensuring in particular that British applicants continue to be eligible, the change of the beneficiary’s legal situation will imply a cessation of EU funding” is a bit discouraging.

    WiFi4EU-funded networks will be free of charge so it raises a good point as to why as part of a USO public WIFI is not provided in each village/hamlet (rather like a Public Phone Box) with connectivity to the main WIFI service providers. A lot better than BT and VM doing it surreptitiously through the back of their routers and you don’t get strangers parking outside your house.

    Note: Those that do not want BT routers broadcasting can either unsubscribe from BT WIFI or place them like mine in a metal IP66 enclosure. For pubs etc see earlier ISPreview article on BT Business Hub with guest option. The problem we have currently is that WIFI is tied to proprietary WIFI or advertising related registration.

    1. Avatar photo Optimist says:

      No reason why the grant cannot be paid by the UK Treasury instead of the EU. Currently all receipts from the EU are about half our total contributions to the EU, which should cease when we leave.

    2. Avatar photo Meadmodj says:

      The UK government has been following a privatised competitive strategy. They are unlikely to support a “free of charge, free of advertising and free of personal data harvesting” approach for public WIFI.

    3. Avatar photo CarlT says:

      You have strangers parking outside your house to use the WiFi? Really?

      You went as far as placing the router in a Faraday cage rather than just turning the feature off so that you could continue to take advantage of it without contributing?

      On the grant matter though spot on. UK governments of both colours show little interest in investing in much outside London and the South East. Far happier to leave them poorer and reliant on fiscal transfers than run the risk of them becoming prosperous.

  2. Avatar photo Henry says:

    €15,000 for the million-plus people of Birmingham, or for the 26 billion square metres of the Highland council in Scotland, may not prove sufficient for full WiFi coverage

    I see the the Spanish pdf list of eligible authorities is 93 pages long, the Italian list is 103 pages, the German list 155 pages, and the French list a mere 621 pages long

    By comparison, the UK local government list is a overly bureaucratic 7 pages long

Comments are closed

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