03 May, 2006
Greece lags behind other European Union states in broadband access despite the fact that the government was making a systematic effort to boost this service, most speakers noted during a conference entitled "The dynamism of broadband in the Mediterranean", organized by the National Commission for Telecommunications and Post (EETT) at a seaside resort southeast of Athens.
EETT president Prof. Nikitas Alexandridis said the conference aimed to record all views and to help promoting a constructive dialogue on a speedier and more effective use of broadband services in the wider Mediterranean region. He noted that EETT was promoting measures to create a fair regulatory framework and a national strategy to support the use of broadband services by enterprises, the public sector and Greek households.
Addressing the conference, Transport and Communications Minister Mihalis Liapis stressed the need for a healthy and fair competition and to promoting a deregulation of the market in infrastructure and network services. "We need policies to support investments in research and development of new technologies along with measures to boost demand of broadband services," Liapis noted.
The Greek minister said the government was in the final stages of an ambitious plan, worth 210 million euros, to promote broadband in the country, by offering to cover 50 percent of the program. The government’s policy aimed to covering up to 60 percent of the country’s geographic regions by 2008, from 13 pct currently.
Liapis also underlined the need for cooperation between Mediterranean countries.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and EU Commissioner Viviane Reding sent messages to the conference stressing the significance of broadband services to European consumers.
Hellenic Telecommunications Organization’s chairman and chief executive, Panagis Vourloumis, acknowledged the very low access rate of broadband in Greece, at around 2.5 pct, and said that broadband was not just an abstract word but the future of an enterprise. Vourloumis said OTE planned to invest 946 million euros to expand its network and broadband services over the next three years.
OTE’s chairman said broadband services in Greece totaled 45,000 in 2004 (0.5 pct of population), 150,000 in 2005, it was currently 250,000 (2.5 pct) and expected to total 500,000 by the end of 2006 and to one million connections at the end of 2007.
Vourloumis, however, criticized EETT for creating an environment of very low wholesale prices that damaged OTE and urged for changes in the regulatory framework of the market.
Source: Athens News Agency