Ranking first in the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) 2020, Finland is a digital leader in the field of e-services and take-up of digital technologies thanks to an active cooperation between the public and private sectors. Among the initiatives aimed at accelerating the development of better services, the WiFi4EU project - funded by the European Commission - is bringing free connectivity to public areas across the country.
Seeking to connect citizens and allow them to benefit from the vast array of digital services developed by the Government, Finnish authorities have launched and taken part in different projects with the aim of ensuring universal service broadband speed. It is no surprise then that Finnish municipalities have shown their support and interest for WiFi4EU since the very beginning, and have applied for all calls with great enthusiasm. Between 2018 and 2020, 53 Finnish municipalities have been granted a EUR 15,000 WiFi4EU voucher to be used to install free hotspots in parks, town halls, libraries, schools, hospitals, and points of interests. “Thanks to the WiFi4EU project, we are able to provide a free network connection to residents of the municipality that would not otherwise have been possible”, explained Chief Digital Office of Laitila, while Mayor of Lapinjärvi revealed: “WiFi4EU has been really beneficial to our small municipality. With the help of WiFi4EU we have had the opportunity to offer free Wi-Fi to everyone in our municipality´s centre, for example in our well-being park. WiFi4EU has a really big impact in our plan to develop an accessible municipality and town centre.”
Behind Finland’s digital leadership lies the country’s pledge to well-being. Famous for being among the happiest countries in the world, Finland is a perfect mix of wilderness, modern architecture, tradition and innovation. This combination, along with the incredible hospitality of its locals, attract visitors to Finland all year round. Whether it is to appreciate the magic atmosphere of the snowy winter or to experience the liveliness of the summer midnight sunshine, tourists have a vast choice of activities and services, now including free connectivity. WiFi4EU is bringing connectivity to cities such as Tampere, with its university-student population and small town feel. From Salla, in the heart of Lapland, to Hanko, Finland’s southernmost town, WiFi4EU hotspots are covering both remote and urban areas. Visitors will be able to connect to the network in the charming town of of Kemiönsaari and Parainen, or while exploring the picturesque old town of Porvoo. Thanks to WiFi4EU, UNESCO's World Heritage sites such as Vaasa’s Kvarken Archipelago will be able to capitalise on public connectivity to promote tourism, while innovation hubs like Outokumpu and Ylivieska will leverage the voucher to attract businesses and start-ups. In Ylivieska , the Local Council has "used the WiFi4EU voucher to build wifi network around our sports and leisure activity center, to cover markets, concerts, sport races among other things", revealed the representative.