Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/05/31/prague_welsh_wifi/

EU OK's Welsh Assembly Wi-Fi

Prague OK too, with modifications

By Bill Ray

Posted in Policy, 31st May 2007 07:02 GMT

The EU has ruled that Wi-Fi deployments in Wales and Prague do not constitute state aid, as neither will compete with commercial hotspot deployments.

The Welsh Assembly's deployment is only intended for use by public sector organisations, so hardly something The Cloud or their ilk have to be concerned about. The intention is really to aggregate orders for Wi-Fi infrastructure to reduce costs, but the Assembly reported itself to the EU just to make sure.

The Prague deployment was to have been more all-encompassing, and was investigated after complaints from unnamed commercial operators. So the proposal has been modified to include only public sector employees - anyone else connecting will be limited to accessing government websites.

Municipal Wi-Fi projects have to tread very carefully to avoid being accused of being state aid, and the EU isn't backward in investigating complaints of such behaviour.

As EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes commented: "Investment in broadband networks is primarily a matter for private companies. State subsidies for such networks are only acceptable if they address a well-defined market failure or cohesion problem." ®