The European Commission has cancelled the tender process for its free, public Wi-Fi hotspot scheme, WiFi4EU, citing a technical error.
A call for applications was issued in May, and many thousands of municipalities from across the EU responded, bidding for a chunk of the €120 million made available to fund the programme.
However, a flaw in the software used for submitting applications meant that some municipalities were able to apply before the process opened, while others were unable to do so once it had.
Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner in charge of the Digital Economy and Society, said: "The Commission is strongly attached to the principles of fairness, transparency and reliability. Therefore, as this technical issue prevented all municipalities from applying on an equal basis, I have asked my services to cancel this first call. The vouchers from this first round of applications will be added to the budget for the next call.
"As of today we are informing all municipalities registered on the portal of this decision. Their registrations will remain valid for future calls, so municipalities can apply again with one click of a button. Those that have not yet registered on the portal will be able to do so when it re-opens before the next call in autumn 2018, once the IT problems have been fully resolved.
Approved by the European Parliament in September 2017, the WiFi4EU initiative aims to deliver free, public Wi-Fi to between 6,000 and 8,000 local communities by 2020. The €120 million budget will cover equipment and installation costs for access points, while local authorities will be responsible for subscription and maintenance costs.