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BRUSSELS—The European Commission has promised free Wi-Fi in every town, village, and city in the European Union, in the next four years.
A new grant, with a total budget of €120 million, will allow public authorities to purchase state-of-the art equipment, for example a local wireless access point.
If approved by the the European Parliament and national ministers the cash could be available before the end of next year.
The commission has also set a target for all European households to have access to download speeds of at least 100Mbps by 2025, and has redefined Internet access as a so-called universal service, while removing obligations for old universal services such as payphones.
It also envisions fully deploying 5G, the fifth generation of mobile communication systems, across the European Union by 2025.
Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker made reference to many of these proposals while also promising to abolish roaming once and for all in his “State of the European Union” address on Wednesday morning.
To do all this the commission has proposed a new law—the European Electronic Communications Code—which merges four existing telecoms Directives (Framework, Authorisation, Access, and Universal Service Directive); as well as an updated Regulation on the Body of European Regulators of Electronic Communications (BEREC); a Regulation to support local communities in providing free public Wi-Fi to their citizens; and an Action Plan to deploy 5G in the EU.
The controversial copyright package was also formally unveiled. Many of the measures, although divisive, were expected due to a series of leaks.
The headline irritant is still the so-called Google tax—in fact a neighbouring rights provision that would allow publishers to charge aggregators for publishing snippets of their stories.
A so called “YouTube rule” requiring intermediaries that store and provide access works uploaded by users to “use effective content identification technologies” to prevent availability of material for which they don’t have copyright is also in the proposed law.
There are efforts to open up content to certain users, such as schools, universities, and public interest researchers.
A series of exceptions to the copyright rules would allow these entities to use material for teaching as well as text and data mining under specific circumstances.
Despite these many other exceptions, and a consultation on the subject, the so-called Freedom of Panorama exception—which allows filmmakers and photographers to include copyrighted public buildings and monuments in their work—was not included.
Ars will bring you full coverage of the proposed changes later today.
This post originated on Ars Technica UK