Free WIFI for everyone was just one of the major proposals from the European Commission annual State of the European Union address on Wednesday made by President Jean-Claude Juncker.


The idea is to try and ensure that free Wi-Fi European Commission will be available across all public spaces throughout the EU by 2020, less than 4 years from now. Juncker also said that the EC would hope to have at least one city in each EU country to have deployed a 5G mobile network by the same time.

Of course the new program may not necessarily apply to the UK because of the recent Brexit vote meaning it may no longer be part of the EU by 2020 it may have quit the EU before the end of the decade.

The project, called WIFI4EU (Do you see what they did there?) hopes to have free Wi-Fi hotspots open and readily available to all EU citizens in public spaces such as parks, squares, libraries and other public spaces.

In order to facilitate such a bold program, the EC will give over €120 million to help cover the setup and maintenance costs in more than 6,000 locations currently shortlisted.  The actual day to day running costs however will be left in the hands of the resident local authorities.

There is a catch however.

If a paid for Wi-Fi network already exists in a public space, then any new Wi-Fi networks won’t receive an EU subsidy. According to the EC, WIFI4EU is intended solely to increase overall internet access to areas previously underserved by internet providers.

Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, Andrus Ansip said:

“Without first-class communication networks, there will be no Digital Single Market. We need connectivity that people can afford and use while on the move. To achieve that, spectrum policies must be better coordinated across the EU. More competition and further integration of the European market will allow us to reach these goals, helped by the right environment created by the new Communications Code.”

Time will tell.