Funding has been secured by the European Union to introduce free WiFi hotspots to public spaces, which local authorities can apply for.
The EU is making €120 million available for local authorities around Europe over the next three years under a new scheme called Wifi4EU.
Local authorities can apply for vouchers worth €15,000 to provide free public WiFi in town centres, parks, libraries and museums.
Today, the European Commission is launching a call for applications for the scheme.
The call, which is open to municipalities or groups of municipalities in the EU, will be open until 5pm on 9 November 2018.
“€120 million will be available for up to 8,000 municipalities across the EU by 2020,” Ireland south MEP Deirdre Clune said.
“I would encourage local authorities around Ireland to get on board with this initiative which means more people will have access to free WiFi,” she said.
“This is another great initiative from the EU which aims to improve access to the internet for citizens.”
Clune added that the application procedure is simple and fully online. Once registered in the dedicated Wifi4EU portal, municipalities will be able to apply online for the €15,000 voucher with one click.
Municipalities that have not registered and wish to apply for the voucher can still register on the portal until the start of the call this morning.
With the voucher, the local authorities will be able to set up a WiFi hotspot in public spaces, including town halls, public libraries, museums, public parks or squares.
Projects will be selected by the Commission on a “first-come, first-served” basis.
In the upcoming call, the first 2,800 local authorities will get a voucher, with each EU Member State being guaranteed to receive at least 15 vouchers.
In the following two years, three more Wifi4EU calls will be launched.
In his State of the Union speech in September 2016, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said: “Everyone benefiting from connectivity means that it should not matter where you live or how much you earn.
“So, we propose today to equip every European village and every city with free wireless internet access around the main centres of public life by 2020.”