The European Parliament gave the final nod to the WiFi4EU project, which will see local authorities in member states bid for a share of a €120 million fund to pay for the installation of free Wi-Fi in public areas.
Mariya Gabriel, commissioner for Digital Economy and Society at the European Commission (EC), described the development as “a concrete step forward for delivering results to all EU citizens”.
Regional authorities are expected to be able to submit applications for a stake of the pot before the year-end.
The money will be awarded to authorities across the economic bloc deemed to be most deserving, in the form of vouchers covering the cost of installing equipment in community areas such as libraries and town squares.
WiFi4EU was announced by the EC in September 2016 and since gone through a lengthy approval process, which also saw the European Council of member states give the green light to the bill.
Following today’s final sign-off from the European Parliament, it will be recorded in the EU’s official journal and passed into law.
The announcement comes a day after Broadband Competence Office (BCO) director Jan Droge tipped WiFi4EU to have a significant impact on connectivity in underserved areas when the first round of funds are made available.
Speaking at Broadband World Forum in Berlin, Droge said the programme was: “A new aid mechanism which is quite innovative. It will make connectivity in small public spaces easier”.
The BCO is an EU body set-up to supply advice and support for member states struggling with the technological and logistical aspects of fibre broadband deployment, including securing funding and partnerships with regulators.