BUSINESS

Free wi-fi access across Greece via 5,000 hotspots

By Thanos Tsiros

The General Secretariat for Telecommunications will in the next 10 days put to public consultation a plan for developing a wireless Internet access network across Greece. The aim is to implement a pledge made by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in November that full coverage would be available by the end of this year. The secretariat aims for the consultation to be completed within 15 days and the tender to be announced by mid-April. User access will likely be restricted to 30 minutes per login.

Using funds from the “digital convergence” program of the European Union, the plan will concern the installation of wi-fi hotspots at all town and city halls around the country, at archaeological sites and museums, and at ports and marinas. Menelaos Daskalakis, general secretary for telecoms, told Kathimerini that the there will be close to 5,000 access points around the country. He said the budget is some 15 million euros.

“The final selection is primarily based on population numbers. We will rely on data given to us by local authorities,” said Daskalakis, adding that the City of Athens has so far failed to respond to the secretariat’s invitation to be included in the program. He said that the municipality intends to launch its own tender for 16 wi-fi hotspots, budgeted at 1.36 million euros. Had it been included in the state program Athens would have had another 20 hotspots based on its population.

So far 303 municipalities have expressed an interest in installing wi-fi hotspots at about 6,500 locations around the country. More than half of these demands will be satisfied. In a separate procedure run by the National Research and Technology Network, wireless access points will be installed in hospitals, while public transport authorities will undertake the installation of access points on buses and metro stations, some of which already enjoy wireless connectivity through a pilot scheme.

The country’s main telecom companies are expected to take part in the tender, and may be allocated specific geographical areas. Their task will be to install and maintain the equipment for the first year.

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