By Dennis Jones
Earlier this month, a cross-section of EU decision-makers, including the European Parliament and Council, effectively greenlit the Commission-driven FreeWiFi4EU project, by reaching tentative political agreement. The EU initiative to bring free Wi-Fi to local communities around the Union, FreeWiFi4EU seeks to fulfill Commission President Jean-Claude Junker’s vision of having “every European village and every city with free wireless internet access around the main centres [sic] of public life by 2020.”
Following a trend towards building out municipal Wi-Fi infrastructure in major cities across the world, Junker initially announced the free Wi-Fi project during his State of the Union speech at the beginning of the year. Full financial details soon followed, with the European Commission promising to subsidize the European Wi-Fi program to the tune of 120 million euros, funds to be doled out to between 6,000 and 8,000 local authorities for use by the end of the year.
The plan is to broadly fan out free Wi-Fi access points to a number of locations across Europe, so that residents and travelers gain internet access where they otherwise would not.
So what happens now? Well, WiFi4EU awaits formal approval by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers. But the question of whether the EU’s free Wi-Fi scheme will actually improve the Wi-Fi industry in the EU still remains. For informed analysis, read the latest post from Wi-Fi Now CEO and Wi-Fi Evangelist, Claus Hetting here.