“Free Wi-Fi for everyone” is the promise of the EU project “WiFi4EU ” – but with caveats…
The alternative for communities (along with all industries) comes from ABL Social Federation, which cross-financed the WLAN networks through targeted advertising and valuable content provided to WiFi4EU users.
The 120 million euros funding provided for WiFi4EU is sufficient to provide service for about 8,000 users, previously underserved, in communities throughout Europe. However, the wireless networks will require a mandatory verification by mobile phone for subscribers. Through a Europe-wide authentication system, the WLAN networks of the communities are to be controlled so that safety and liability requirements are met. Since anonymous prepaid SIM cards can be purchased in some countries, the assignment of the mobile number to the corresponding user is ultimately superfluous, especially since the Commission assures that personal data will only be stored where required by national law. After a long fight in Germany for the abolition of the Störerhaftung, the default of the Commission is a step in the other direction.
There are many disadvantages to WiFi4EU that are not present with the solution from ABL, which makes it a viable alternative. With its own omnichannel marketing portal (OCMP), various exclusive advertising spaces can be accurately marketed during the login process, which helps permanently finance the wireless access points in the communities that it serves. Then, of course, without the hurdle of a mobile phone verification, ABL can offer user-friendly “one-click” authentication. This means the login rate, also known as the “capture rate,” will be significantly higher than hotspot access with a login limit.
After converting the 8,000 municipalities, only about 15,000 € will remain per municipality from the initial funding, which will need to be used for hardware and the installation of hotspots. To finance the operation and to ensure free WLAN accesses for at least 3 years, the communities will have to pay for many systems and services themselves, including internet connection, repair, software, and necessary hardware rentals.
When operating the WLAN hotspots, the EU Commission demands around-the-clock uptime and that failures are remedied within a very short window. This also speaks again for professional companies such as the ABL Social Federation, which has demonstrated proven success and reliability with large projects such as “Berlin Free WiFi.”