In the second round of European Commission funding, 3,400 municipalities across Europe will receive a total of €51 million to provide free WiFi throughout their public spaces. 14 districts across the UK have been selected to receive this investment.
This investment is part of the European Commission’s WiFi4EU initiative, which will see a total of 9,000 municipalities across EU Member States, Iceland and Norway receive aid to install free WiFi in public spaces.
Each of the winning districts will be awarded €15,000 (£13,220) to deliver free WiFi to those visiting town halls, public libraries, museums, public parks and squares. This scheme is part of the EU’s ambitious overhaul of telecoms rules, helping to meet residents’ growing connectivity needs and to boot Europe’s global competitiveness, as well as the implementation of the Digital Single Market.
We are pleased to see that the response from municipalities to this second call has been overwhelmingly positive with more than 10,000 applications. We will continue connecting Europeans, enabling them to enjoy the benefits of the Digital Single Market.Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society Mariya Gabriel
14 districts have been successful in their application for this round of funding – the second of four. The first call had 13,200 applications, with 2,800 vouchers awarded. The third call will take place later this year, and the final one will be at some point next year.
The successful districts in the UK are spread across the country, from Bexley to Angus. The list below shows all of those 14 selected municipalities. These places join 15 UK districts awarded in the first call of WiFi4EU.
- Blackburn with Darwen
- East Northamptonshire
- East Ridings of Yorkshire
- Mid and East Antrim
- Suffolk Coast
This 14 is a comparatively small number when compared to other countries taking part in this scheme. France has a similar population to the UK, but has received 409 successful applications. In addition to this, the republic of Cyprus has an area 40 times smaller than the UK, but had 36 municipalities awarded with this funding; 22 more than the whole of the UK.
This difference is unlikely to be caused by the European Council, however, as they have pledged to supply at least 15 grants to each participating country. This can only be honoured if there are 15 applicants, suggesting that these 14 districts of the UK may have been the only ones to apply.
This system for improving publicly accessible WiFi is important in the constantly connected world we live in, and will only become more important as technology advances and is even more integrated into our everyday lives.
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