Rural Wifi access priority in spending of €120 EU Wifi fund
Rural communities should tap into a €120 million EU Wi-Fi fund to to access to speed up their internet access, according to an MEP for Laois.
Matt Carthy said Wifi4EU funding amounts to €120million will provide up to 8000 free public Wi-Fi hotspots across the EU. He said he proposed prioritising rural areas in in the scheme’s rollout which he said received 'overwhelming support' from MEPs.
Under an agreement the Border, West, Midlands MEP said funding will go on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis prioritising rural and remote communities, that do not currently avail of public Wi-fi hotspots.
He said the approach of the Wifi4EU initiative provides an opportunity for rural areas to avail of internet connectivity in public spaces.
“I will endeavour to ensure rural communities are aware of the proceedings and possibilities of the Wifi4EU scheme. Applications should open at the end of the year and I will be encouraging local authorities to apply for the scheme,” he said.
The MEP said successive Irish governments have failed "abysmally" in providing rural committees with the levels of connectivity required.
“A digital divide exists between rural and urban areas, as a direct result of government broken promises to provide a scheme of rural broadband. It often appears that the Fine Gael government is purposefully trying to keep rural Ireland in the dark ages.
The Sinn Féin MEP said he was committed to voicing the need for substantial internet connectivity in rural areas. Rural communities require the same internet resources as urban areas, which is a measure of quality of life.
“Increased internet connectivity benefits the promotion of tourism, which is an essential sector in many rural areas. Additionally, the development of local domestic economies, particularly those dependent on SMEs, rely upon a decent infrastructure and reliable internet connectivity in order to emerge into a rapidly changing market.
“People located in rural areas deserve to be able to live and work in their areas and not have to move to where internet connectivity and other resources are accessible. It is unacceptable that rural broadband is not a norm across the fifteen counties of the Midlands North-West constituency, unlike other EU regions," he concluded.