Greece will try to take the lead in the penetration of optical fiber networks in Europe, as it intends to cover all of the country’s cities with the means to provide rapid access to the Internet at home. Communications Minister Evrypidis Stylianidis stated yesterday that «we will be the first member state in the European Union to provide optical fiber networks to homes for the whole of the country. The bill concerns the interconnection of 52 Greek cities across the country, serving 2 million households, while at the same time it allows for bringing an end to the isolation of the Greek countryside and ensuring equal opportunities for all Greeks regardless of where they live.» The bill for the 2.1-billion-euro development of the optical fiber network will be put up for public consultation by end-September and will provide that one-third of the project will be supported by state funding, as European Union programs dictate. The project is to be implemented by three public-private partnerships (PPPs), with each covering exactly a third of the country. Sources suggest that there is already interest in the development of the project from both domestic companies and foreign ones, including from Asia and America. The optical fiber connections will have point-to-point (P2P) architecture, while contracting consortiums will not be able to have a telecommunications company as their major shareholder. «The use of new technologies has the same value as that of introducing electricity,» said Stylianidis. «The contemporary applications of distance learning, telemedicine, administration and electronic commerce, to name but a few, are applications that can change the picture and pave the way for new prospects in Greece’s development,» he added after updating the prime minister on the issue. Consequently, in a few months’ time, the new building permits will necessarily include a plan for the construction of vertical and horizontal optical fiber networks.