By Martynas Tovarovas, Wi-Fi NOW Staff Writer
Greece is planning to install 3,000 public Wi-Fi hotspots all over the country starting next year. The hotspot locations will include both open-air and enclosed public spaces, such as city squares, playgrounds, libraries, museums, and pedestrian zones, says Greece’s Department of Telecommunications and Post.
The main goal of the project is to cover as many public access areas as possible throughout Greece including many islands and popular tourist destinations. Based on the current schedule the Greek government says it will start building its new Wi-Fi network in early 2020. The initiative is mostly funded by EU programs ESIF and ERDF with a total budget of 14.8 million euros and is implemented by the Greek ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications, and Media.
The locations for the first 3,000 hotspots will be identified and proposed by municipalities across Greece and will mostly focus on parks, squares, pedestrian areas, various educational facilities, health centers, and public transportation.
Once installed any of the new Wi-Fi hotspots will be able to connect up to 80 concurrent users, the Greek government says. Users will not need to enter any personal data to access the free service but there will be a time limit on usage – most likely only an hour of continuous connection will be allowed. After that users will need to reconnect, the government says.
“Free Wi-Fi connectivity is a key priority for the European Union’s Digital Single Market (DSM) and Gigabit Society programs. The aim of the project is twofold: it will help to bridge the connectivity gap – and moreover it will contribute to broadband penetration by creating more broadband user communities. It is also anticipated to act as a demand driver,” says Vassilis Maglaras, Secretary General of Greece’s Department of Telecommunications and Post.
Is Greek free Wi-Fi part of WiFi4EU?
The European Commission’s WiFi4EU initiative seeks to increase free Wi-Fi coverage throughout the European Union. Within the WiFi4EU scheme municipalities can apply for €15,000 grants to be used for equipment and installation of free Wi-Fi services in public spaces – but it only applies to cities that are not already providing free public Wi-Fi services. The Greek government says that their new free public Wi-Fi project has nothing to do with WiFi4EU.
“The project is complementary to WiFi4EU and aims to expand the coverage of free Wi-Fi throughout the country. Areas that have been included in WiFi4EU are of course not within the scope of the project,” says Vassilis Maglaras.
This is the second time the Greek government is attempting to set up a nationwide free public Wi-Fi network. The country launched a similar program in 2004 seeking to create 600 hotspots. The project was never completed.