In an attempt to boost their shrinking economy, Italian lawmakers have proposed earmarking $6 million for free public WiFi
Large shops, taxis, airports, law courts and other public places would have to offer password-free access to the Internet.
“We are really badly placed when it comes to Internet access,” Sergio Boccadutri, the proposal’s sponsor, told Reuters.
Really? Because according to a report by Mobiforge, at 90. 5 % Italy has among the highest mobile Internet penetration (3G and 4G networks) in the world.
The proposers hope to bring the bill to a vote by mid-2015. Since so many Italians have Internet access on their mobile phones, perhaps the proposal is mainly aimed at helping tourists? Tourists like to do a lot of shopping and with mobile access in, say, Piazza Navona, tourists could presumably find their way more easily to the nearest Prada store, thereby stimulating the local economy.
Reuters reports that fewer than 1 percent of Italians have 30Mbps broadband or faster, but realistically, who needs Internet that fast?
Perhaps the service is not for tourists as much as for sensor equipped trash cans and street lamps to send signals to municipal servers? This could also stimulate the economy by making municipal services more efficient…and thereby putting tourists in more of a spending mood?
In short, aside from being a feel-good cosmetic change, it’s hard to foresee how free public Wi-Fi will help Italy’s ailing economy. Or at least it doesn’t seem like the first or best option.
But at least it’s better than the Italian government’s previous solution: re-adjusting their accounting to include drug and prostitution revenue.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock/ Italy country map polygonal with spot lights places