In 2020, the WiFi4EU initiative has played a pivotal role in ensuring free access to connectivity for everyone through public Wi-Fi hotspots in public spaces. As we wrap up the year, we would like to share with you the WiFi4EU highlights of 2020.
- In June 2020, the fourth WiFi4EU call distributed 947 vouchers, each worth EUR 15,000, to municipalities across Europe. For this call, the European Commission has received over 3,000 applications in the first 5 seconds of the opening and over 8,600 in total, following the success of previous calls;
- As of December 2020, over 3,000 WiFi4EU networks are currently in operation. Close to 40,000 hotspots are connecting citizens and visitors all over Europe, and more are being installed every day;
- More than 80% of the eligible entities in Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Slovenia have received WiFi4EU vouchers;
- About 30,000 eligible entities from the 30 participating countries are currently registered to the WiFi4EU Portal;
- More than 2,100 members are active part of the WiFi4EU Community on Futurium, which has emerged as a forum of discussion able to have a practical impact on the installation process of WiFi4EU networks. To facilitate the sharing of best practices, the Futurium platform has been updated to feature a multilingual user- and mobile-friendly interface;
- Throughout the year, 7 dedicated webinars were hosted for BCOs and municipalities in order to answer questions regarding implementation, showcase examples and share expertise;
- WiFi4EU Stories featured 19 winning municipalities and WiFi4EU countries covered 11 participating countries. From leveraging free Wi-Fi to bridge the digital divide to developing e-services with the aim of improving the quality of life, these beneficiaries have shared their stories and have attracted more than 35,000 subscribers to the WiFi4EU newsletter;
- During the COVID-19 outbreak, WiFi4EU has contributed to connectivity resilience through support for the installation of free Wi-Fi access points in public spaces. About 45% of municipalities have installed hotspots next to schools, and close to 20% next to medical centres. This year, WiFi4EU networks have been crucial for distance learning, remote work and reliable sharing of medical information;
- Supporting the digital transition will be key in building resilience and advancing recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-10 pandemic. The European Commission has proposed that 20% of Next Generation EU is devoted to Europe’s digital transformation, in which free Wi-Fi connectivity plays a crucial role.
2020 has changed the way in which we work, study and stay in touch with each other. The pandemic has reinforced the importance of universal access to high speed, reliable and secure internet connection for all: businesses, public services, and citizens. Thanks to the commitment of close to 9,000 municipalities across Europe, WiFi4EU will allow us to stay connected while we look ahead to what the new year has in store.
On behalf of the WiFi4EU team, we would like to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year!