EU money for free wifi hotspots in Laois towns

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Free wifi

EU funding for free wifi hotspots in Laois

Free urban Wi-Fi is on the way to four Laois towns costing €60,000 paid by the European Commission.

Four WiFi4EU vouchers were sought by and awarded to Laois County Council, worth €15,000 each, it was announced at the November council meeting.

Two of them will be used in the Portlaoise Municipal District which stretches down to Abbeyleix. One each will go to the Portarlington Graiguecullen district, and the Mountmellick to Borris-in-Ossory district.

The initiative promotes free access to Wi-Fi connectivity for citizens in public spaces including parks, squares, public buildings, libraries, health centres and museums in towns around Europe.

Launched in 2017 this is the first time Laois has been awarded hotspots. At the time it was announced that €120 million would be made available for wireless hotspots across the EU.

The council did not give details where exactly the hotspots will be installed.

“There will be further developments and information in the period ahead,” the CEO John Mulholland said at the meeting.

Cllr Mary Sweeney from Ballyroan is disappointed it does not extend to rural areas.

She had tabled a motion to ask for an update on the council’s Wifi4EU application.

“It is very important to give free access to wifi in public spaces and parks. But for some of us in rural areas there is no connection to broadband. It’s pathetic.

“I hope we will not have to wait for the national broadband plan. I am disappointed this isn’t a little further out than urban areas,” she said. She also asked for specific locations for the wifi.

The Cathaoirleach Cllr Willie Aird supported her motion.

“Wifi was the single biggest issue for young people in the election,” he said.

Director Michael Rainey said they will consult with each Municipal District on locations.