By Claus Hetting, Wi-Fi NOW CEO & Chairman
Message to those who are ready to start building EU-funded free Wi-Fi networks: The European Commission has just announced that the ‘first call’ (meaning first disbursement of vouchers) has been delayed until this fall. The EC cites technical difficulties as the reason for the delay.
The good news is of course that the program is already in extremely high demand: Within seconds, five thousand municipalities had applied, the Commission says in this statement. All together some 11,000 municipalities applied while the portal was open and functioning. But since the technical glitch disrupted the process, the EC feels that not all municipalities could be treated fairly, and hence the ‘first call’ has been cancelled, the EC says.
The EC’s solution is to add the grant budget (meaning equivalent number of vouchers) for the ‘first call’ to a second round due to take place in fall of 2018, although no specific date has been given. The EC says that the delays will not be substantial because the first vouchers were due to be allocated after summer anyway. We will try to keep you posted of the latest developments here.
The WiFi4EU program was first announced in fall of 2016 and finally launched its registration portal in March such that municipalities and Wi-Fi solution providers could register for program participation. Last year, Wi-Fi NOW was selected for an WiFi4EU advisory role to research and evaluate the technical aspects of the free Wi-Fi grant program.
Earlier this month, Wi-Fi NOW announced the creation of the WiFi4Europe.org Association & Advisory, or WAA. For more about the WAA, see this press release.
The EC’s WiFi4EU FAQ page can be found here.