Broadband service penetration will reach 1.5 percent in Greece by the end of 2005, according to a study by the Information Society Observatory (ISO). In the year’s first half, penetration rose significantly, reaching 0.9 percent in early July, but Greece remains at the wrong end of the chart in the European Union. At the start of the year, one in 10 Europeans had a broadband connection to the Internet, i.e. fast and permanent, whereas only one in 100 Greeks have this privilege. The observatory’s study makes no mention of the high costs of ADSL connections in Greece nor the fact that European subscribers have faster connections than the Greeks. For instance, in Italy subscriptions for 2,000 kilobytes per second are already available, while in Greece the majority of ADSL subscriptions have much lower speeds (128 or 512 kbps). Broadband connections in Greece are estimated to number over 92,000. Applications for new connections have steadily been over the 7,000 mark per month. If that pace is maintained, then penetration will approach 1.5 percent by the end of the year. Scandinavians lead the penetration table in Europe, with rates above 15 percent. Among the top countries in broadband penetration are the Netherlands, Finland, Estonia, Denmark, France and the UK. The ISO’s study suggests that the growth of broadband service in Greece depends on four main pillars: the development of infrastructure for high-speed networks for state and local authorities, with an emphasis on the less developed geographical areas of the country (utilization of Hellas Sat, Metropolitan Broadband Networks, local networks in smaller municipalities); the expansion of private infrastructure for broadband networks; the development of content and the services offered; and the growth in broadband service demand. The initiative for the development of Metropolitan Broadband Networks in cities outside Attica and Thessaloniki with more than 10,000 people is already under way; a total of 69 proposals have been submitted by municipalities and are being examined. The initiative’s success «will eventually depend on the actual viability of the business plans for the utilization of the networks, to secure autonomous operation without burdening the local authorities financially, and on the schemes to undertake the networks’ operation.» The initiative for the smaller municipalities of 5,000-10,000 people has enjoyed great response with 224 proposals submitted. Although similar initiatives have been successfully applied in several European countries, the differences in the role and operation of municipal authorities in Greece could limit the expected effects. The study concludes that the response by the private sector will be critical for the effort’s success, with competition hopefully leading to a drop in costs.