WIFI4EU moves a step closer to reality

5 Aibreán 2017

 Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada’s report on WIFI4EU has been adopted by a committee vote this week in Strasbourg.

The public WiFi proposals will now move to the Plenary stage where they are expected to be passed, paving the way for the creation of WiFi hubs in towns and villages across Europe beginning this summer.

Liadh Ní Riada, who is the lead negotiator on the WiFi4EU project, said the initiative would “help bring connectivity and investment to rural areas”.

“This is an important project and I now urge all communities without this type of infrastructure to keep an eye on the scheme and avail of it when it is rolled out.

“It is a very simple but effective idea. It requires a relatively small investment of some €120m that, if used wisely, will have huge returns for the communities it benefits.

“The basic premise is that we equip as many towns and villages as possible with free wireless internet access, centred on the main centres of public life in that area, by 2020.

“It would be focused on places like parks, squares, libraries, health centres, museums, areas of poverty and in areas where people happen to congregate in numbers.

“While the scheme will be dispersed in as geographically balanced a manner as possible, I feel it is important that special consideration is given to rural and peripheral areas, particularly those suffering from a lack of internet access. It may seem ridiculous that such places exist in 2017 but I can think of several in my own constituency, indeed in my own county, alone.

“This scheme will bear huge benefits for peripheral communities, allowing local social enterprises access to a global market is crucial in today’s economy.  These are the back bone to local economies and any iniatiave which benefits our young people in particular and helps them to stay in Ireland has to be welcomed.

“It will be used to promote things like health and e-tourism; the scheme is only as limited as the imagination of the communities it will benefit.

“€20m is going to be made available for the scheme before the end of 2017 and one of the most important aspects is its accessibility. We will ensure that applying to the scheme is open, easy and free of needless bureaucracy. A simple online application system will be set up and local authorities will be actively encouraged to take part.

“We also ask internet providers to fully engage with this scheme through local authority tenders and take responsibility for providing internet connectivity to much deprived areas.

“Proposals like this are the type that were originally envisaged for the EU. A social partnership of countries working together to improve the lives of everyone from Bucharest to Ballyferriter.”

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