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EU to support wireless connectivity for local communities

Matteo Natalucci Published 18 August 2017

EU to update in October Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Work Programme to include budget for wireless connectivity for local communities

Following a parliamentary inquiry labelled " Free wireless connectivity in EU's local communities " by European Parliament member Neoklis Sylikiotis, the EU has revealed its intention to amend the current Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) Work Programme to include wireless connectivity for local communities in its programme's priority. 

The forthcoming CEF working program will also clarify the link between ‘geographical balance’ and the ‘first come/first serve’ principle for the allocation of funding.

Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, said , "Local wireless connectivity that is provided in public areas free of charge and without discriminatory conditions could contribute to bridging the digital divide, especially in geographical areas that lag behind in terms of digital literacy, as well as in rural areas and in remote locations. However, the regulation is not the main tool to address the digital divide." 

EU 2020 Strategy calls for the implementation of the Digital Agenda for Europe, which establishes a stable legal framework to stimulate investment in an open and competitive high-speed internet infrastructure and in related services.  Indeed, the EU aims to have the fastest broadband in the world by 2020 based on state-of-the-art technologies.

Gabriel said, "The Commission will clarify, in the Connecting Europe Facility Work Programme, the link between ‘geographical balance’ and the ‘first come/first serve’ principle. Furthermore, the initiative will exclude projects that duplicate already existing private or public offers with similar characteristics (including quality of service) in the same area."

"Once the legislation will have entered into force (expected by the end of October 2017), the Commission will be in a position to finalise the necessary steps required for the practical application of the measure (amendment to the Connecting Europe Facility work programme, publication of the website for applicants, etc.),"Gabriel added.

It is not yet clear how the CEF Work Programme amendments will impact the forthcoming CEF funding scheme, though the EU has identified local communities' wireless connectivity and digitalisation a priority for 2020. 

The next call for projects is expected to be launched after the end of 2017/early 2018. 

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