Marian Harkin MEP.
Independent MEP Marian Harkin has warmly welcomed the adoption of a proposal in the European Parliament today, Tuesday, September 12th, aimed at providing free access to fast internet in local communities.
Harkin, who represents the 15 counties of the Midlands-North-West constituency in the European Parliament which includes Louth, said: “The ‘WIFI4EU’ proposal establishes a scheme offering free WIFI connections in spaces where public services are offered, such as public administrations, libraries and hospitals as well as outdoor spaces accessible to the general public. A multilingual WiFi4EU portal will allow people to access a free, secure high-speed internet connection.
“Over a period of three years, a total of €120 million from the EU´s Connecting Europe Facility will provide financial support in the form of grants, and/or financial assistance, for the deployment of local wireless access points. The allocation of this money will be on a first come first served basis for Member States while ensuring a geographical balance across the EU and is expected to commence towards the end of this year.
“This fund is an important step towards delivering the EU´s goal that all Europeans should have access to internet speeds of above 30 Mbps and that 50 % or more of European households should have internet connections above 100 Mbps by 2020. Connectivity to the internet for local communities has an important role to play not only in the competitiveness of their local businesses but also for the social inclusion of their inhabitants, particularly in more rural areas.
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“I very much hope that the Irish Government will take full advantage of this new scheme to connect our communities and that rural communities in particularly are provided for”, she concluded.