This week saw a vote in the European Parliament on proposals to provide €120 million in funding for public WIFI hotspots across our towns and villages.
I am working with Irish officials to ensure that Ireland makes applications under the scheme for free wifi hotspots in public spaces such as libraries, hospitals, parks and other such public places. This is a key part of ensuring rural Ireland is more connected.
Proposals to fund high speed internet connections in such areas is a welcome step in funding connectivity in rural Ireland. This is a scheme we should take full advantage of. Initial roll-out is expected to commence in late 2017 early 2018. It is particularly good for tourism as tourists will be able to connect to local wifi hotspots when visiting our towns and villages.
The WIFI4EU scheme will provide funds in the form of vouchers for equipment and installation. Public authorities will have to pay for the connectivity and the maintenance and commit to offer the service for at least three years. Once registered, users will be free to connect to wifi at all these hotspots.
During negotiations with the European Council, the Parliament insisted that EU funding could only be used for wireless access points that did not use advertising or commercial use of personal data.