ECONOMY

Greece is way behind EU?s Digital Agenda targets

Greece is a laggard in all indices on the 2012 Digital Agenda Scoreboard, which assesses broadband use and penetration in the European Union?s member states, according to a report presented this week.

During the presentation, the European commissioner responsible for the Digital Agenda, Neelie Kroes, showed that Greece has a long way to go before it meets the targets set by the European Union for 2015. The EU?s aim is to create a single digital market capable of competing with other strong global players such as the US, Japan and China.

The Commission?s report illustrates that Greece is trailing the targets by 35 to 83 percent, and while the EU average shows that other member states are also struggling to keep up, they have less ground to cover than this country in the next three years.

The paradox is that, proportionally speaking, Greece invests more in telecommunication networks than the rest of Europe. This investment, the Commission report says, came to 16.3 percent of the total turnover of telecommunications in 2010, against an EU average of 12.4 percent.

Despite the proportionally greater investment, Greece continues to lag in technological infrastructure. Broadband connection penetration came to 21.8 percent of all landline connections at the end of 2011, compared with a 27.7 percent average, while penetration of broadband Internet access via cell phones amounted to 3.7 percent, against an EU average of 8.1 percent.

Just over half of Greek households (50.2 percent) had a broadband connection at end-2011, when the penetration rate in the EU averaged just under three-quarters (73.2 percent).

In terms of infrastructure, Greece, Italy and Cyprus are rock bottom in the bloc as they have no penetration of super-speed connections — above 30 megabytes per second (Mbps) — while the EU average stands at 3 percent.

It appears that Greeks are not great users of electronic services either. The percentages of people using the Internet for banking and government services and shopping are substantially lower than the European average.

The Commission report further notes that Greece, Romania and Hungary are the slowest countries concerning the switchover to digital television. ?There are a few member states where the digitalization of terrestrial broadcasting is not completed yet or does not appear to have been completed by the end of 2012. Bulgaria and Poland have decided to make the transition in 2013, Hungary in 2014 and Romania in 2015. Greece has not yet decided on its final transition date,? the report says.

The countries that delay the analogue switch-off will also have to wait longer for the so-called ?digital dividend,? or the radiofrequency spectrum that will become available through the transition to digital television.

Among other points, the report also highlights the reduction in the operational costs of national regulatory authorities in EU countries, which concerns Greece, Cyprus, Romania, Italy and Slovenia, as they reduced employee salaries considerably last year.