Laois has missed out on funding available through an EU-backed scheme to set up free wifi hotspots.
Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development, Seán Canney TD has announced of the first successful applicants of the European WiFi initiative, WiFi4EU.
This announcement sees Ireland securing €885,000 to establish a minimum of 59 free, open-access WiFi hot-spots throughout the country. This funding comes in the form of vouchers, worth €15,000 each, distributed to the successful local authorities. A total of 105 vouchers were applied for.
"This will bring free WiFi hotspots to many public spaces throughout the country and will vastly improve connectivity in communities. I am also very pleased to confirm that the Department of Rural and Community Development will match all successful vouchers with a further allocation of up to €15,000.
"I hope that this contribution will help local authorities in developing an even more substantial network of free public WiFi hotspots,” he said.
County councils in Carlow, Offaly, Kildare, Tipperary and Longford were among the 21 local authorities who will benefit.
The Department of Rural and Community Development will provide match funding of up to €15,000 to each successful vouchers secured by the local authorities. This will enable them to extend the areas where they intend to provide free public WiFi.
The WiFi4EU initiative promotes free access to Wi-Fi connectivity for citizens in public spaces including parks, squares, public buildings, libraries, health centres and museums in municipalities throughout Europe.
The initiative provides municipalities with the opportunity to apply for up to four vouchers to the value €15,000 each. The vouchers are to be used to install Wi-Fi equipment in public spaces within the municipality that are not already equipped with a free Wi-Fi hotspot.
Each successful local authority has 18 months to select locations for the WiFi4EU hotspots and complete their installation to be ready for public use. These locations need to be ‘centres of public life’ where no other free WiFi service is already available. The service will be free of charge, free of advertising and free from commercial re-use of data.
The voucher may serve to purchase new equipment or upgrade old material and replace it with most recent and best available equipment on the market.
The budget of the WiFi4EU scheme is EUR 120 million between 2018 and 2020. It will support the installation of state-of-the-art Wi-Fi equipment in the centres of community life.
As a result of this first round, with the total budget of €42 million, 2,800 municipalities around the EU will receive vouchers of €15,000 to set up a Wi-Fi hotspot in public spaces.
Response from municipalities to the first WiFi4EU Call has been impressive. Over 4,000 municipalities applied within the first 10 seconds of the opening of the call on 7 November. By the closing of the application period on 9 November, the Commission had received over 13,000 applications from all participating countries across Europe.