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Berlin coalition agrees on easier access to Wi-Fi hotspots

Germany's ruling coalition has agreed on modified legislation aimed at removing existing legal risks associated with providing free Wi-Fi to the public. The law is expected to come into force this summer.

Many hotels, restaurants and cafes across Germany currently restrict Wi-Fi access since operators

run the risk of being made liable,

if users carry out illegal activities such as copyright infringement while using their connection.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats and their junior coalition partner, the Social Democrats, on Tuesday agreed on a revised law that will see hotspot providers no longer being held responsible, if users do forbidden things.

The agreement follows months of wrangling between the two coalition partners. Germany's restrictive rules had been blamed for the poor availability of pubic Wi-Fi in Europe's powerhouse.

Watch video 04:15

Slow Internet, slow growth

Lagging behind

Germany currently has only 1.87 Wi-Fi hotspots per 10,000 residents, compared with 37 in South Korea and 28 in the UK.

Better and easier Internet access has been viewed as a crucial part of the nation's Digital Agenda, which also aims to provide all households with download speeds of at least 50 megabits per second by 2018.

The Bundestag (lower house of parliament) is due to vote on the law on June 2. The new legislation is expected to come into force this summer at the latest.

hg/nz (AFP, Reuters)

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