Quartz on Helsinki’s free, city-wide Wi-Fi network:
The result is not necessarily blanket coverage, but wherever there is a building or space controlled by the city, there is Wi-Fi coverage. And it isn’t particularly expensive. Otranen says the cost is included in overall maintenance of the city’s internet and is not broken out separately, though Simo Volanen of Helsinki’s IT department estimates that the outside base stations cost some €40,000 to buy and install ($45,000) and have an annual maintenance cost of about €4,000. This does not include the cost of running the network, which Helsinki does for its own purposes in any case.
The reason Helsinki is able to do this, and London or New York are not, is partly down to the way Finland is run. Finnish cities have tremendous power, including powers of taxation. Helsinki residents pay a municipal tax of 18.5% of their income in addition to national income tax. Finnish cities have the usual powers—streets, rubbish collection—but also handle things like healthcare, education, and cultural institutions. That means that their municipal footprints are much bigger than London’s, for example, where city authorities have fewer day-to-day responsibilities.
(Highlights by me)
To add insult to injury to the rest of us, Helsinki residents themselves don’t even necessarily need that fast free Wi-Fi, via Politico:
For €35 (about $40) a month, a Finnish phone subscriber will get 50 gigabytes of high-speed data, 25% higher than Estonia in second place, and more than 10 times as much as the EU median.
Compare this with the situation in Germany with very few public Wi-Fi spots in general and no publicly sponsored Wi-Fi in sight due to very strict copyright and liability laws. Skift:
Europe’s largest economy offers just 1.9 wireless hotspots per 10,000 inhabitants, compared with 4.8 in the U.S., 29 in the U.K. and 37 in South Korea, according to a study by Eco, a German association representing 800 Internet companies.
Just 65 percent of German hotels offer public hotspots compared with 80 percent of locations across Europe, according to industry group Hotelverband Deutschland.
The new German law coming to change liabilities for public Wi-Fi is about to eliminate at least non-commercial Wi-Fi spots (German).
Very are vast differences across Europe when it comes to Internet access.