Italy plans to boost economy, tourism with free WiFi

Italy is a country known for delicious food and amazing sights, but not so much for decent broadband internet access. The nation's government recognizes this, and a group of lawmakers have proposed a $6.3 million project that would install free, public WiFi in across the country in effort to not only attract tourists, but also strengthen its economy in comparison with the rest of Europe.

A member of Italy's ruling party and a supporter for the WiFi proposal admits that the country is "badly placed when it comes to Internet access," adding "Free Wi-Fi would have a big cultural impact and help the economy recover, starting from industries such as tourism."

Should the proposal be accepted, a three-year period would see password-free wireless internet offered everywhere from airports and shopping centers, to even inside taxis and courthouses. The $6.3 million is said to be used to cover equipment costs, but there's no mention of how ongoing maintenance would be funded. A final decision won't be made anytime soon however, as legislators don't expect the proposal to go before parliament until summer of next year.

Free public WiFi is something that certainly sounds attractive for most people, and it will certainly be useful to tourists who often research places to go and how to get there on the spot. But it isn't quite clear how internet access everywhere would spur Italian citizens to spend more money. Maybe broadband speeds will simply save people more time than they're used to, time they can then spend discovering new places to eat and sights to visit?

VIA Engadget

SOURCE Reuters