Norwegian telecoms regulator the National Communications Authority (Nasjonal kommunikasjonsmyndighet, Nkom) has announced the launch of a new EU-funded support scheme. In a press release the watchdog revealed that under the ‘WiFi4EU’ scheme, local municipalities can apply for funds to offer free Wi-Fi zones to residents and visitors in central areas and public buildings. It goes on to say that the scheme – part of Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) in Telecom, a key EU instrument which aims to facilitate cross-border interaction between public administrations, businesses and citizens, by deploying digital service infrastructures (DSIs) and broadband networks – will be managed by the Nkom. In total, the budget for WiFi4EU has been set at EUR120 million (USD144 million) for the period to 2019, with the EC noting that it expects the scheme to 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’.
The first call for projects that are seeking to gain funding from the WiFi4EU scheme is expected to get underway in February 2018, and will reportedly be selected on a first-come, first-serve basis. Project promoters applying to the scheme should propose to equip areas where a free public or a private Wi-Fi hotspot offering similar characteristics does not already exist.