EU Plans Free Wi-Fi For All Citizens By 2020, Access To 100Mbps Internet By 2025

The European Commission is doing its best Oprah Winfrey impression, though instead of giving away cars, it's focusing on Wi-Fi access to the public sector—you get free Wi-Fi, and you get free Wi-Fi, and you get free Wi-Fi! It's a €120 million (~$135 million in U.S. currency) effort to bring free Wi-Fi to all facets of public life by the year 2020.

Governments can apply for funding to participate in the WiFi4EU project to install Wi-Fi networks in public places, such as libraries and parks. When all is said and done, the EU estimates that anywhere from 6,000 on up to 8,000 public locations will offer free Wi-Fi to citizens, serving up to 50 million connections each and every day.

It's quite the ambitious effort for such a relatively short time span, though the EC didn't stop at free Wi-Fi access. The Commission also set a goal of rolling out gigabit Internet speeds to every business and all public sectors, along with a mandate that all households will have access to 100Mbps download speeds by 2025. To put that into perspective, the average Internet speed in the U.S. is 12.6Mbps, and even the average peak connection speed is barely more than half of what the EC is shooting for at 57.3Mbps, according to Akamai.

"Connectivity is a key prerequisite for Europe's digital future. The Internet of Things, digitization of industry, cloud, big data all demand secure and ubiquitous connectivity with the best speed and quality," said Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society.

Europe also has big plans for its roadways. As part of the initiative, major roads and railways will have 5G coverage by 2025, and at least one major city in each EU nation will have it by 2020.

"Europe has the ambition to lead on the deployment of 5G. It is time to move to a gigabit society and make sure all Europeans, whether in the countryside or in cities, can get access to a quality internet connection," Oettinger added.

Rules and regulations that are currently in place would make it tough to reach the EC's goals in the time frame allotted. As a result, it's promised to loosen some of the regulations to make this happen.