European Union plans to offer free Wi-Fi to all

But the EU's €120 million budget for the project won't stretch far

Free Wi-Fi for all: That was one of the proposals to come out of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's annual State of the European Union address on Wednesday.

The project, WIFI4EU (Wi-Fi for you), aims to put free Wi-Fi hotspots open to all EU citizens in parks, squares, libraries and other public buildings.

The Commission will provide €120 million (US$135 million) through 2019 to subsidize the purchase and installation of Wi-Fi hotspots in 6,000 or more locations, but the provision of bandwidth and ongoing maintenance will be left to the local community.

The hotspots will be open to all EU citizens -- although given the budget, it's unlikely many of them will be able to get a signal without a long walk.

If your local park or library already offers a paid Wi-Fi service, then the EU subsidy isn't going to change anything Projects that compete with a similar, existing private or public Wi-Fi offering will not be funded, as WIFI4EU is intended to bring Internet access to previously unserved areas. 

Nevertheless, the Commission clearly foresees a lot of pent-up demand for the service in heavily trafficked areas: It hopes each subsidized hotspots will serve thousands of connections daily. If one connection represents one user, its goal is to connect almost one-tenth of the EU's population each day.

Free Wi-Fi is not the Commission's only plan to get more Europeans on the Internet. In a proposed reform of its telecommunications regulations, it also envisages making affordable broadband Internet access part of the universal service obligation for telecommunications operators. It will be up to national governments to ensure people with low incomes or special needs can access such services, perhaps by offering vouchers to cover the cost or by requiring carriers to provide special tariff options.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Peter Sayer

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?