Laois has missed out the latest round of European money to install free public WiFi hotspots.
The European Commission has confirmed that Ireland has secured 22 so-called 'vouchers' worth €330,000 to install free public WiFi hotspots in centres of public life across the country. Each local authority in Ireland can apply for a maximum of four vouchers, each worth €15,000.
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.
Seán Canney TD, Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development, welcomed the results of the second call for applications under the EU’s WiFi4EU initiative.
Laois was not among the counties in Ireland to be awarded one of the 22 awarded this year or the 62 vouchers in 2018 - the first year of the initiative.
However, Minister Canney expects all councils to be successful before the scheme ends next year.
“Seventeen of the 31 Local Authorities in Ireland have now secured all of the vouchers available to them, and the remaining 14 local authorities are well on their way to doing the same," he said.
Two further calls for applications under WiFi4EU will take place between now 2020.
If a council gets a voucher it has 18 months to select locations for the hotspots and complete their installation to be ready for public use. These locations must also be ‘centres of public life’ where no other free WiFi service is already available.
The Commission says the service will be free of charge, free of advertising and free from commercial re-use of data.
Vouchers can be used to buy equipment or upgrade old material.
The budget of the WiFi4EU scheme is €120 million between 2018 and 2020 and councils around Europe can apply.
The counties to get money were this year: Galway, Kilkenny, Leitrim, Meath, Monaghan, Roscommon, Sligo, South Dublin, Westmeath and Wicklow.
Clare County Council is among the counties to get vouchers in 2018. Clare deployed a first Wi-Fi network in the town of Ennis which has a population of 26,000 - similar to Portlaoise.
The county earmarked its vouchers to cover other key places such as county tourism centres and markets, with the goal of finding a balance between services for citizens and tourism services. READ MORE ABOUT THEIR PROJECT HERE