European Commission scraps first call for applications for free wi-fi in public spaces

The European Commission has said on June 14 that it cancelled the first call for applications in the WiFi4EU initiative, which offers vouchers worth 15 000 euro for municipalities to set up Wi-Fi hotspots in public spaces, including libraries, museums, public parks, squares.

The call for projects was scrapped due to a technical issue, the Commissioner for digital economy and society, Maria Gabriel, said.

“The programme generated an enormous amount of interest. In less than two months, more than 18 000 municipalities, around a quarter of all in Europe, expressed their interest. A first call for applications was launched on May 15 2018. Within seconds, over 5000 municipalities had already applied and, within a few hours, 11 000 had done so,” Gabriel said.

But after being alerted by a third party, an EC investigation found that the tender software had a flaw that allowed some municipalities to apply before the call was opened, while preventing others from applying after the call opened.

This is an issue because the selection was meant to be made on a “first-come first-served” basis. To ensure a balanced geographical distribution among EU member states, each country would have been given a minimum of 15 and maximum of 95 vouchers.

“The Commission is strongly attached to the principles of fairness, transparency and reliability. Therefore, as this technical issue prevented all municipalities from applying on an equal basis, I have asked my services to cancel this first call. The vouchers from this first round of applications will be added to the budget for the next call,” Gabriel said.

“As of today we are informing all municipalities registered on the portal of this decision. Their registrations will remain valid for future calls, so municipalities can apply again with one click of a button. Those that have not yet registered on the portal will be able to do so when it re-opens before the next call in autumn 2018, once the IT problems have been fully resolved.”



The Sofia Globe staff

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