Minister Canney welcomes European funding of €885,000 for 21 local authorities under the WiFi4EU initiative.

The Department of Rural and Community Development will provide a further €885,000 to support the development of free public WiFi hot-spots throughout the country. 

 Published 7 December 2018

Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development, Seán Canney TD today (Friday 7 December 2018) welcomed the announcement 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.

Speaking today, Minister Canney stated: “This is a fantastic result for Ireland, Irish local authorities applied for 105 vouchers and secured 59 of them. 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.”

The details of the successful local authorities are as follow:

Local Authority Number of vouchers secured
Carlow 4 (€60,000)
Cavan 4 (€60,000)
Clare 2 (€30,000)
Cork City 1 (€15,000)
Donegal 4 (€60,000)
Dublin City 4 (€60,000)
Fingal 4 (€60,000)
Galway City 4 (€60,000)
Galway County 1 (€15,000)
Kerry 4 (€60,000)
Kildare 1 (€15,000)
Leitrim 2 (€30,000)
Limerick City and County 4 (€60,000)
Longford 1 (€15,000)
Mayo 4 (€60,000)
Meath 1 (€15,000)
Offaly 2 (€30,000)
Sligo 1 (€15,000)
Tipperary 4 (€60,000)
Waterford City and County 4 (€60,000)
Wicklow 3 (€45,000)

 

The Department of Rural and Community Development will match the funding provided by the European Commission, potentially doubling the value of the investment in public WiFi networks.

The vouchers were awarded at EU level on a first-come first-served basis and Minister Canney added: “This outcome shows how proactive local authorities in Ireland are and their determination to bring connectivity to their areas. They are doing as much as they can to provide their communities with a much needed service and their efforts and engagement need to be applauded. Officials from my Department worked very closely with Broadband Officers, local authorities and the European Commission ahead of the first call for applications, and this great result is a demonstration of the very positive engagement and willingness from all involved to improve the connectivity of communities.

“Each successful local authority now 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 WiFi4EU service will be free of charge, free of advertising and free from commercial re-use of data.”

Minister of State Canney, added: “The amount of work invested in this project by our local authorities should not be underestimated. It speaks to a shared commitment to improve free-of-charge public WiFi services and to bring down the cost of mobile data.

“Local authorities across Ireland now have an opportunity to install WiFi in their villages, towns and cities, in parks and hospitals, libraries and town squares and I wish them all the best in their endeavours.”

ENDS

 

Note to editors:

  • 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.
  • Co-funding this initiative contributes to the Department’s strategic goals and will have a positive impact on a number of the Department’s commitments and initiatives. For example:
      • The provision of free public WiFi supports the goal of the Mobile Phone and Broadband Taskforce of improving broadband access in rural communities;
      • The initiative supports the commitment in the Action Plan for Rural Development to include the use of digital technologies to enhance tourist experience;
      • In addition to stimulating demand in high-speed broadband connectivity and encouraging widespread take-up at community level, the intervention will also have several positive knock-on effects ranging from enhanced access to e-government and participation in democratic life, including for demographic groups otherwise facing difficulty in accessing connectivity, to additional infrastructure for emergency and crisis communications and public service announcements;
      • Support for Town and Village Renewal: free public WiFi has been shown to benefit local economies by drawing consumers towards town and villages where free public WiFi is available.

 

The WIFI4EU initiative

  • 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 4 vouchers to the value EUR 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 now 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.