Culture and policies weigh down on local broadband numbers

Poor infrastructure and badly aimed government policies could be harming the adoption of local broadband technology as recent data confirmed that Greece is among the bottom dwellers on the list of EU countries offering fast Internet access. Michael Brusca, President of DSL Forum, a consortium of 200 service providers, told Kathimerini English Edition that broadband numbers in Greece might be kept low due to a number of reasons. «I am not saying they are directly applicable to Greece but the factors (normally) are local culture, infrastructure and public policy,» he said. «The technology is there. There are no barriers to bringing this technology into Greece,» Brusca added. Broadband is a term used to describe Internet connections that are always on and offer significantly faster access than dial ups. DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) technology is the predominant broadband technology used for transferring data over normal phonelines and can be used to connect the Internet. Data released by the DSL Forum on Tuesday showed that Greece added 223,256 new DSL subscribers in the year ending June, 2006, bringing the penetration rate to 5.7 percent of all telephone lines. The figure represents an impressive growth of 239 percent but usage remains low in comparison with EU peers. Finland has a penetration rate of 40 percent while the figure in Spain has hit 24.5 percent. The head of telecoms regulator EETT, Nikitas Alexandridis, told a parliamentary committee that high prices along with a legal framework that does not favor business initiatives in the sector have hurt broadband usage in Greece. Experts also agree that technological ignorance along with a reluctance to switch over to new technologies are keeping Greeks back in the march towards the digital age. In a bid to overcome the obstacle presented by poor infrastructure, the government announced earlier this month a 450-million-euro program part of which will provide for the building of a better network across the country. At present, only 13 percent of Greece is within reach of broadband connections. The lag is also costing the economy in lower productivity rates. «Broadband access is a technical tool that has enabled growth within commerce and an increase in productivity,» Brusca said.