Commission mulling plan to boost faster Internet use in Greece

The European Commission will decide by this summer whether IT laggard Greece can provide aid to companies to boost high-speed Internet access, EU Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding said yesterday. «A decision under state aid rules will be taken before the summer,» Reding said in a speech delivered at a conference organized by Greek telecoms regulator EETT. Reding was unable to attend the event and her speech was delivered by an EU spokesman. Last year, Brussels approved several broadband projects that received state aid in Britain, Spain, Austria and Ireland. According to the EU, only 9 percent of Greece’s population of 11 million had access to broadband in January 2005 compared with 87 percent of households and businesses in the 15 older EU countries. Reding underscored the need to open up the Greek broadband market to competition to stimulate growth. The European Commission is now examining a 210-million-euro project to boost broadband services in rural areas in Greece and among targeted social groups, such as families with many children and the unemployed, Reding said. «The project aims to increase access to broadband infrastructure to 90 percent of the Greek population,» she said. (Reuters)