The European Commission (EC) has set out ambitious plans to bring free WiFi to all areas of public life across Europe by 2020.
The WiFi4EU project will begin with a budget of €120m, and will be open for governments to apply for funding to install WiFi networks in public locations such as parks, health centres, libraries and so on.
The EU believes that 6,000 to 8,000 locations should benefit from the scheme, hosting up to 50 million connections a day.
The EC has also said that it wants every business and public sector entity to have access to gigabit speed internet connectivity, and that all households should have access to 100Mbps internet speeds by 2025.
Finally, all major roads and railways should have high-quality 5G coverage by 2025, while at least one major city in each EU nation should have 5G coverage by 2020. This is something EU operators have already promised to deliver.
Günther H. Oettinger, Commissioner for the Digital Economy and Society, explained that high-speed networks across the EU are vital for the digital future of the region.
"Connectivity is a key prerequisite for Europe's digital future. The Internet of Things, digitisation of industry, cloud, big data all demand secure and ubiquitous connectivity with the best speed and quality," he said.
"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."
The EU will develop a new Electronic Communications Code to bring more clarity to the rules governing networks and to make it easier for communications companies to play a part in these goals.
This will include relaxing regulations when operators work together to provide coverage to regions currently without good internet access, while wholesale operators will face lighter regulations.
"By offering access to several service providers, the investor can pool revenues and ensure the better returns on capital needed to build infrastructure," the EC said.
The plans have been welcomed by some in the sector. The Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council Europe explained that the goal of complete, high-speed coverage is the right strategy.
“We need the approach proposed in this legislation if we are to get the investments needed to achieve best-in-class networks in Europe," said Ronan Kelly, president of the FTTH Council Europe.
Widespread, high-speed coverage is no doubt vital for the future digital strategy of Europe. However, the UK is about to leave the EU and will not benefit from any such measures.
This could see the UK lag behind its European rivals as current government strategies around broadband speeds are way below those outlined by the EU. 10Mbps is seen as the minimum citizens should be offered.
AlphaBay users had flocked to Hansa after it was closed down - not realising it had already been taken over by Dutch police
Microsoft closes in on $100bn annual revenues with sales weighing-in at $23.3bn
Moves to take down cyber-squatted domains reveals Fancy Bear hacking network, claims Microsoft
Intel claims 'world first' in artificial intelligence that can be plugged-in almost anywhere