ECONOMY

Pushing fast Internet

Broadband Internet penetration is set to double to 7 percent of households by 2008, Economy and Finance Minister Giorgos Alogoskoufis and Transport and Communications Minister Michalis Liapis announced yesterday. This would still leave Greece far behind the expected EU average of 23 percent by that date. The broadband connection boosting plan will cost 450 million euros and provides for the building of infrastructure covering most of the country. At present, only 13 percent of Greece is within reach of broadband connections. The ministers said they hoped the infrastructure will provide an incentive for more citizens to connect. They said they would call 2008 «The Year of Broadband Connections and Digital Convergence.» Bids for the project to build the broadband connections will be submitted by September 29. The ministries hope that OTE telecom will not be the only interested party. The plans also call for the creation of 2,500 broadband access public spaces, including free wireless access in 140 cities and towns. The project will be jointly funded by the European Union’s Fourth Community Support Framework Program. Liapis said that ADSL connections have more than tripled this year, from 100,000 at the end of 2005, to 350,000 currently.