Sunday 15 September 2019

Over 100 local authorities apply for free public WiFi - but only 15 spots available

Funding has been secured for at least 15 Irish councils to host free Wi-Fi in public areas.
Funding has been secured for at least 15 Irish councils to host free Wi-Fi in public areas.
Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

Some 105 city and county councils in Ireland have applied for free WiFi in public areas - with only 15 vouchers available in the first round.

The EU is set to provide €120m for local authorities across Europe over the next three years as part of the WiFi4EU scheme.

According to Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune, over 4,000 municipalities in Europe applied within the first 10 seconds of the applications portal opening on November 7, but only 2,800 will receive the €15,000 allocated funding in this first round.

The WiFi is expected to be free of charge, free of advertising, and will be available in public spaces such as parks, town halls, public libraries and museums.

Ms Clune described the initiative as a "great idea" and said it could potentially attract more tourists to certain areas because of the availability of WiFi free of charge.

"There was a lot of interest in this scheme from around Europe. €120m will available for up to 8,000 Local Authorities across the EU by 2020," Ms Clune said.

"This is another great initiative from the EU which aims to improve access to the internet for citizens."

It is understood that the vouchers will be allocated to councils on a first-come, first-serve basis.

"Every participating country is guaranteed a minimum of 15 vouchers and can potentially win a maximum of 224 vouchers [in later rounds]," Ms Clune explained. 

"With the voucher, the local authority will be able to set up a WiFi hotspot in public spaces, including town halls, public libraries, museums, public parks or squares."

The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA), the Commission's executive agency in charge of implementing the WiFi4EU programme, will now make necessary checks of the admissibility and eligibility of the municipalities.

The winning councils are expected to be announced in December.

Online Editors

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News