Commission, Council, Parliament commit to roll out up to 8,000 public hotspots in all member states.

The EU this week reached a deal to spend an initial €120 million rolling out free-to-use WiFi hotspots in public spaces.

Called WiFi4EU, the initiative was unveiled in September 2016 alongside the Electronic Communications Code (ECC), which forms part of the EU’s over-arching Digital Single Market (DSM) strategy. On Monday, the European Commission, Council and Parliament agreed on the budget, which will fund the deployment of free public WiFi hotspots in 6,000-8,000 municipalities in all member states.

"The Digital Single Market Strategy aims to build a fully connected Europe where everyone has access to high-quality digital networks. The WiFi4EU initiative will improve connectivity in particular where access to the Internet is limited," said the EU’s DSM vice president, Andrus Ansip.

If a local authority wants to take advantage of WiFi4EU, they can apply for a grant in the form of vouchers that will pay for the purchase and installation of WiFi access points. The local authority will need to cover the cost of operating the hotspot.

It is hoped that initiatives like WiFi4EU and the ECC will help the EU to reach its goal of providing symmetric gigabit connectivity to every school, university, research facility, transport hub, hospital, administrative building, and digital business by 2025. The EU also wants every household to have access to 100-Mbps broadband services that are upgradeable to 1 Gbps.

"WiFi4EU is a welcome first step, but much more needs to be done to achieve high-speed connectivity across the whole EU territory – such as improving Europe-wide coordination of spectrum and stimulating investments in the high-capacity networks that Europe needs," Ansip said.