Irish towns and cities can apply for free Wi-Fi hotspots

Some €120m is being put into the cross-EU project

Irish towns and cities can apply for free Wi-Fi hotspots

A computer tablet with a Wi-Fi symbol is seen in this photo illustration | Image: NurPhoto/SIPA USA/PA Images

Updated: 16.10

Applications have opened for local authorities to introduce free Wi-Fi hotspots.

Under the initiative, the European Commission is making funding available to local authorities across the EU.

'WiFi4EU' will promote free Wi-Fi connectivity in public spaces such as parks, squares, public building, libraries, health centres, and museums.

The budget of the scheme is €120m between 2017 and 2019.

Over the next three years each authority can apply for vouchers up to the value of €15,000 each, with a maximum of four vouchers over the course of three years.

The EU says it will support the installation of state-of-the-art Wi-Fi equipment in the centres of community life.

"The WiFi4EU scheme will be disbursed in a geographically balanced manner, so that high-speed connections can benefit both residents and visitors of thousands of local communities across the EU - at least 6,000 to 8,000 local communities by 2020."

Locations in Ireland eligible for the WiFi4EU scheme | Image: wifi4eu.eu

The scheme is open to public sector bodies - typically local municipalities, libraries, health centres, etc.

It will fund the equipment and installation costs, while the beneficiary will pay for the connectivity (internet subscription) and maintenance of the equipment for three years.

Local authorities are also being encouraged to develop and promote their own digital services in areas such as e-government, e-health and e-tourism through a dedicated app.

The WiFi4EU scheme will be delivered through online applications, payments by vouchers and light-touch monitoring requirements.

The projects will be selected on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Welcoming the announcement, Communications Minister Denis Naughten said: "I am delighted to finally see the launch today of WiFi4EU which will bring several new WiFi hotspots to communities across the country.

"Ireland has worked closely with other member states in driving this scheme and bringing it to fruition today.

"I am encouraging local authorities to avail of this opportunity."

The EU says those applying for the scheme should propose a free public or private Wi-Fi hotspot where similar ones do not already exist.

You can register for the scheme here