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The WiFi4EU project is destined to the EU citizens and visitors who will be able to access free Wi-Fi in public spaces such as parks, squares, public building, libraries, health centres in the EU. The Wi-Fi hot spots can be installed by the municipality and WiFi installation company using the voucher from the EU.
The WiFi4EU scheme is open to the public sector bodies from the EU Member States and participating EEA countries, Norway and Iceland. For the first call for applications, only the municipalities (or equivalent local administration) can apply as well as associations formed by municipalities which can do so on behalf of the municipalities only. The list of entities eligible to apply (i.e. municipalities or associations of municipalities on behalf of the municipalities) was agreed with each Member State and will be made available for reference for municipalities or associations to check whether they are eligible to register/apply.
'Associations formed by municipalities' can register multiple municipalities and will be required to separately submit the final application online for each municipality included in their registration. Associations of municipalities are not entitled to receive a voucher. Each voucher is awarded to an individual municipality as the beneficiary.
Each municipality can only benefit one voucher during the entire duration of the initiative. Therefore, municipalities selected for a voucher in one call cannot apply for any subsequent calls while municipalities that applied and did not get a voucher can try again if there is a subsequent call.
Municipalities can register on www.wifi4eu.eu anytime by filling out a simple registration form. To register, a municipality will need an EU login account.
The WiFi4EU web portal also provides suppliers with the opportunity to register and indicate where (i.e. in which countries and regions) they can provide their services such that beneficiaries can consult this list for their own procurement purposes.
Second, municipalities should apply (by clicking the “apply for voucher” button in the “My application” page) after the call is opened.
The municipalities (or associations of municipalities, acting on behalf of their members) can register on www.wifi4eu.eu anytime. They need to provide basic information about the municipality, notably the contact details of their legal representative and, if they wish, the details of a contact person (typically a staff member) who has been appointed to manage the registration and application.
When registering as a municipality, the following information will be required (which will not be made public except for the name of the registered municipality):
- Country and type of organization to be registered (municipality or association)
- Information on the municipality
- Name of the Municipality
- Official address, number and postal code
- Information on the legal representative
- Name and surname
- E-mail address
- Information on the contact person if this is different from the legal representative
- Name and surname
- Address, number and postal code
The registration process is simple so that any municipality can apply in their chosen language without needing any intermediary.
Municipalities are NOT requested to include a technical project or documentation about the Wi-Fi network to be deployed. They also do NOT need a preliminary assessment of costs from a supplier, to be able to apply for the voucher.
Once the call will be opened, the registered municipalities will be able to submit an application for a voucher in the same portal. The submission can be done by clicking on the supply button.
The date of the first call is available on the portal, the dates of subsequent calls will be made available on the portal as well.
The municipalities will be selected on a first-come, first-serve basis (based on the date and time of the submission of their application, NOT the one of their registration). A minimum of 15 vouchers per country will be awarded under the first call. The number of vouchers per country should not exceed 8% of the first call's budget.
One voucher is EUR 15.000.
The beneficiary must ensure that the installation is completed and Wi-Fi hot spot starts working within 1.5 years after being awarded the voucher. Therefore within this time the beneficiary can define its project and select a Wi-Fi installation company which can complete the installation.
Each beneficiary will contract the supplier(s) of their choice to install the wireless equipment (in accordance with public procurement rules). The Commission will not intervene in the contracting relations of the beneficiary with their supplier. Suppliers can register on the portal at any time but need to do so at the latest when a beneficiary has contracted them as a supplier.
Beneficiaries will select the 'centres of public life' where the WiFi4EU hotspots will be installed. The Wi-Fi hotspots will be installed in the areas where no similar offers of free Wi-Fi connectivity already exist.
Beneficiaries will also be free to choose their internet provider, which could be the same as the Wi-Fi supplier/installation company or not. The high-speed broadband connectivity subscription should deliver a high-quality internet to users and must be subscribed to by the beneficiary for at least 3 years from the moment the network is up and running.
The WiFi4EU voucher will cover the equipment and installation costs of Wi-Fi hotspots meeting the requirements that will be defined in the call text and in the grant agreement that will be signed with the selected municipalities. The selected municipality will be responsible for paying for the connectivity (internet subscription), maintenance and operation of the equipment for at least 3 years.
Costs associated with the tendering process (including the drawing up of the terms of reference), setting up the necessary backhaul connectivity (e.g. extension of network) or additional equipment not related specifically to the Wi-Fi hotspots (charging stations, street furniture, etc.) will also have to be supported by the municipality.
To ensure the voucher can be redeemed correctly, the supplier will need to register on the WiFi4EU portal and provide their details (contact person, contact details, geographical scope of operations and bank account details).
Both the supplier and the beneficiary will need to confirm that the local network is installed and operational. Upon verification that the local network is indeed operational (remote monitoring) the payment will be triggered.
The supplier will then be able to redeem the voucher from the European Commission and any outstanding balance not covered by or above the value of the voucher will be settled by the beneficiary.
The Wi-Fi hot spot must be installed using the voucher. The municipalities or other public bodies are responsible for financing internet subscription and maintenance of the equipment in order to offer free and high-quality Wi-Fi for their citizens and visitors for at least 3 years.
Beneficiaries must use the common visual identity to be provided by the Commission and link to the associated online tools.
Beneficiaries may use the WiFi4EU voucher to partially fund a project of higher value; therefore any equipment and installation costs beyond the value of the voucher would fall under the contract between the supplier and the beneficiary.
WiFi installation companies can register on the WiFi4EU portal through a dedicated section. They will be requested to provide the following details:
- Information about the company
- Company Name
- Official address, city, postal code and country
- VAT number
- Company website (optional)
- BIC and bank account number (IBAN format)
- Information on the geographical area (countries or areas within the country) where the company operates
- Information on a contact person.
- Name and Surname
- Country code and phone number
- E-mail address
WiFi installation companies can register on the portal at any moment but they will need to do so at the latest when a selected municipality has contracted them as a supplier. This is to ensure they can redeem the voucher once the installation is complete. WiFi installation companies do not need to apply for a voucher to redeem it. They need to be registered in the portal and to contract the service with a selected municipality.
Please be aware that eligibility criteria must be complied with for the entire duration of the grant. If the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU during the grant period without concluding an agreement with the EU ensuring in particular that British applicants continue to be eligible, the change of the beneficiary's legal situation will imply a cessation of EU funding.
The Wi-Fi network should be capable of providing a high quality user experience. Municipalities should subscribe to the highest available mass-market offer in the area and in any event to one offering at least 30Mbps. The backhaul network's speed should also be at least equivalent to the connectivity used by the municipality for its internal needs. The Commission will remotely monitor the quality of the connectivity of all WiFi4EU hotspots.
Pursuant to the Financial Regulation, no grant may be awarded retroactively for actions already completed. This means that the municipalities should not incur any costs before the date in which they are assigned a voucher, i.e. the date of signature of the grant agreement. In case municipalities intend to use the voucher to extend an existing network with additional hotspots, the costs incurred for these additional hotspots should not be prior to the date of signature of the grant agreement.
Currently existing public WiFi networks will be able to join the WiFi4EU initiative provided they respect the conditions that will be defined, including some technical specifications, with a view not to alter the WiFi4EU main features, such as that the access should be free of charge and without discriminatory conditions and respecting some branding requirements and technical conditions.
It will be also possible for existing networks to join the WiFi4EU initiative even without using vouchers. We are working towards providing adequate solutions to the different situations that could be presented.
In order to be able to apply, municipalities are required to complete their registration with the following two supporting documents:
- a signed scan of the proof of agreement to apply (the template is available via the portal) with a copy of the legal representative’s (i.e. mayor/head of municipality) identity document (such as an ID card or passport), and
- a scan of a document establishing that the legal representative (i.e. mayor/head of municipality) currently entitled to represent the municipality (such as a nomination act, a publication in the official journal or in a municipal council deliberation, etc.).
If the legal representative (i.e. mayor/head of municipality) wishes to mandate someone else to electronically sign the grant agreement and to perform other operations in relation to the obligations set out in the grant agreement, then this person will need to be identified by providing the following documents (at the latest before signing the grant agreement):
- the authorised person form, signed by both the legal representative (i.e. mayor/head of municipalityand by the authorised person.
- a copy of the authorised person’s identity document (such as a scan/picture of the ID card or passport)
The forms mentioned above can be downloaded from the portal WiFi4EU Portal under the "My registration" page. Similarly, the supporting documents can be uploaded as separate files in the WiFi4EU Portal under the "My registration" page, using a suitable format (.pdf, .png, or .jpg). This feature is available since 26 April 2018. An e-mail has been sent to all municipalities that had registered before this date notifying them that they need to upload at least the first two documents (mayor's "agreement to apply" and "nomination act") before being able to apply for a voucher. The last two documents can also be uploaded now, although they are only formally required (for the municipalities that will receive a voucher) at the latest by the signature of the grant agreement (should the mayor not wish to sign himself/herself).
The voucher can cover VAT unless the beneficiary is a non-taxable person (as defined in the Directive 2006/112/EC or it can recover VAT under national law (applicable VAT legislation).
Yes. It is possible to connect several centres of local public life with one network (single captive portal) or several networks (different captive portals). If the costs for equipment and installation exceed the value of the voucher, the additional costs need to be financed by the municipality or by other national/regional funding sources.
21. Should the Internet connectivity (subscription to an Internet Service Provider) be exclusively dedicated to the WiFi4EU network ?
If a high-quality internet experience is guaranteed to users at all times – and the conditions of the scheme are respected – the municipality can decide whether to limit the connection to the WiFi4EU network or share it with other services/networks.
22. Can the municipality mandate the set-up of the network to several third parties and therefore request a split of the voucher to several companies?
No. The WiFi4EU vouchers only cover the purchase of Wi-Fi access points' equipment and their installation. The voucher amount will be paid to a single company identified by the municipality as their Wi-Fi installation company.
Advertisement on the captive portal constituting a source of revenue for the municipality or the obligation, for end users, to buy any product or service to access the network, would not qualify as “free of charge” in the meaning of this Regulation.
As stated in recital (4) of Regulation (EU) 2017/1953, the service provided by WiFi4EU hotspots should be free of charge, that is to say that “provided without corresponding remuneration, whether by direct payment or by other types of consideration, such as commercial advertising or the provision of personal data for commercial purposes” for the three first years of operation.
The voucher is valid for 18 months. Beyond this period, the voucher will expire and can no longer be redeemed. The network should therefore be up and running within 18 months.
Some security features will be part of the technical specifications of the equipment and detailed in the grant agreement. Ultimately, the beneficiaries (municipalities) will be responsible for managing each WiFi4EU network at local level and thus define security settings - in line with the EU and national law
While, in an initial phase, public WiFi4EU hotspots will not be required to be encrypted, in the second stage (from 2019 onwards), a common authentication platform will be set up that will provide additional security features for the connection of end users while also facilitating seamless roaming between WiFi4EU hotspots in different areas.
The technical specifications of the captive portal will be detailed in the grant agreement signed between the beneficiaries (municipalities) and the Commission.
In the initial phase of the programme, the captive portal would be required to include at least the following features:
Embedded snippet from EC for monitoring actual functioning of the WiFi4EU network (no personal data collected)
WiFi4EU branding required (WiFi4EU SSID);
Local Wi-Fi reconfiguration will be needed to enable the roaming function (common authentication platform) between the different local WiFi4EU networks once phase 2 is launched.
The technical specifications of the equipment will be detailed in the grant agreement signed between the beneficiaries (municipalities) and the Commission.
It is envisaged that the Access Points will be required to include at least the following features:
- comply with 802.11ac Wave I;
- support 802.1x;
- be able to handle at least 50 concurrent users without performance degradation;
- have at least 2x2 multiple-input-multiple-output (MIMO);
- comply with Hotspot 2.0 (Passpoint Wi-Fi Alliance certification programme).
On the WiFi4EU portal - In accordance with the applicable EU legislation, notably Regulation (EC)45/2001, only personal data necessary for the participation in the WiFi4EU Initiative and its management by the European Commission (or its executive agency) are collected in the WiFi4EU portal and it will not be retained unless necessary for control and audit purposes
Similarly, some of this data may be shared by the European Commission (or its executive agency), on the basis of the “need to know” principle, with other EU institutions and bodies, and Member States (including their regional or local authorities) or services in charge of controls or inspections in accordance with European law (European Court of Auditors, OLAF, Ombudsman, etc.).
For more details, see the WiFi4EU privacy statement.
On the WiFi4EU network - In a first stage, registration and authentication of users, and therefore any potential collection and processing personal data, will be the responsibility of each municipality and their contracted Internet Service Provider (ISP). In this phase, each WiFi4EU hotspot will have to comply with a privacy statement and applicable national and EU laws, notably Regulation (EC)45/2001.
In a second phase (as from 2019), there will be a single authentication platform, which will allow users to register only once and "roam" between all WiFi4EU hotspots, without having to introduce again their credentials.
The portal will remain closed until all IT developments are completed. It will resume its operations well before the new call is launched (Autumn 2018).
When the portal resumes its activities, all registered municipalities and companies will be informed by email, information will also be made public through the portal. Existing registrations of municipalities and companies are saved in the portal, and may be used again when the portal reopens.
Because the portal is currently unavailable, it is currently not possible to register, change registration details or upload documents.
The call for applications launched on the 15 May has been cancelled.
The Commission had to close the portal after more than three hours to address technical issues. It was discovered that a flaw in the software allowed some applicants to apply ahead of time in good faith, and prevented others from applying as soon as the call opened. Because the European Commission is committed to the fairness and reliability of the competition and it could not guarantee that all applicants were competing on an equal footing, this “pilot” call has been cancelled.
A new call for applications will be launched in the autumn of 2018. There is no definitive planning of the coming calls for applications yet.