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Last Call for UK Municipalities to Win EU Funds for FREE WiFi

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020 (9:00 am) - Score 513
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The European Commission’s €120m WiFi4EU initiative, which provides vouchers worth up to €15K (£13.42K) to help municipalities install FREE public WiFi wireless broadband hotspots, has announced that it will open up for a fourth and final call for applications between 3rd and 4th of June 2020.

The scheme originally aimed to equip “every European village and city with free WiFi internet access” by the end of 2020. Under this approach municipalities can harness the WiFi4EU vouchers to purchase and install Wi-Fi equipment (wireless access points) in their chosen centres of local public life, although any on-going costs for maintaining the network must be covered by the local authority.

The final call for applications was originally due to take place in March, but COVID-19 had other plans and delayed the event. Instead this round will now take place next month and includes the remaining budget of €14.2 million, which is expected to cater for the distribution of around 947 vouchers on a “first come, first served basis.”

EC Statement

In these challenging times, WiFi4EU is contributing to building connectivity resilience through support for the installation of free Wi-Fi access points in public spaces, including hospitals (18% of the installations) and schools (37.5%). The current emergency is reinforcing the importance of universal access to high speed, reliable and secure internet connections for all: businesses, public services, and citizens.

Sadly take-up of this scheme by the UK has been comparatively weak so far, which may be down to issues of Brexit (note: we won’t fully leave until the end of the year), a lack of awareness or simply the fact that public WiFi is already quite common across the UK. In any case the funding is available to local authorities, should they so desire.

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