By Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman
After some delays the European Commission has today launched the WiFi4EU portal, where municipalities and Wi-Fi solution providers can register to become part of the €120 million WiFi4EU project. The project aims at funding thousands of free Wi-Fi hotspots across the European Union.
EC President Jean-Claude Juncker’s vision ‘to equip every European village and city with free wireless Internet access’ is finally underway in earnest: Interested municipalities and Wi-Fi solution providers only have to go to this portal to sign up. Once registered, interested parties will need to apply for actual grants during the ‘first call’ in mid May, the EC says in this official statement.
The European Commission will grant €15,000 to each qualifying municipal Wi-Fi project in the form of a voucher that can be cashed by the participating Wi-Fi solution providers. The funds are expected to pay for all or some of the Wi-Fi network equipment and installation but not for operational costs, which must be paid for by the municipalities. The EC expects the funds to be used to establish free Wi-Fi at such locations as parks, squares, libraries, museums, and other public buildings.
If you want to be part of this, speed appears to be of the essence. The EC says that the vouchers valued at €15,000 each will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Hence it’s a good idea to get registered immediately and then keep a keen eye out for the ‘first call’ announcement from the EC in mid-May. There will be 1,000 recipients of the first batch of grants, and the program will continue into 2020, says the EC.