As Shadow Rapporteur of the Wifi4EU file, Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, recently provided an update on the process to apply for free public wi-fi hotspots.
Matt Carthy said:
“The European Commission has reported that it is working on an online portal which will be available in the coming weeks so that local authorities and installation companies can apply to the Wifi4EU scheme.
“I am told that the European Commission expects that the launch of applications will take place in February.
“The Wifi4EU funding amounting to €120million will provide up to 8000 free public Wi-Fi hotspots across the EU.
“The scheme will give local areas, especially those who do not have a high level of internet connectivity currently, the opportunity to avail of grants for free wifi-hotspots in public areas.
“I would encourage all those local authorities who are interested in applying to the scheme to stay up to date and watch out for the launch of the scheme.
“The funding will be granted on a ‘first-come, first-served’ basis but, crucially, will prioritise rural and remote communities, who do not currently avail of public Wi-fi hotspots. This should obviously mean that communities within the Midlands North West constituency which I represent will be considered if applications are submitted.
“Increased internet connectivity benefits the promotion of tourism, which is an essential sector in many rural areas. Additionally, the development of local domestic economies, particularly those dependent on small and medium businesses, rely upon a decent infrastructure and reliable internet connectivity in order to develop.
“The level of internet connectivity in rural areas is trailing that of urban areas, as a result of the lack of investment from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael governments. It is unacceptable for a digital divide to exist between rural and urban areas.
“Families residing in rural areas deserve to be able to live and work in their communities and not have to move to where internet connectivity and other resources are accessible. It is unacceptable that rural broadband is not a norm across the fifteen counties of the Midlands North-West constituency, unlike other EU regions.
“The approach of the Wifi4EU initiative provides an opportunity for rural areas to avail of internet connectivity in public spaces, as the Irish Government has absolutely failed to do so.
“I will endeavour to ensure rural communities are aware of the developments to apply to the Wifi4EU scheme”.
Further information on the Wifi4EU scheme can be found here: https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/faq/wifi4eu-questions-and-answers