Alternative telecommunication suppliers are gaining ground in Internet connections at a considerable pace at the expense of OTE telecom, data compiled by the Observatory for the Greek Information Society for the second quarter of the year showed yesterday. Although OTE retains a 53.7 percent share of broadband Internet connections, in the first half of this year the number of new connections by alternative suppliers was almost 10 times as high as that of new OTE Internet connections – 170,342 as compared to 18,249 new OTE connections. Customers are now increasingly opting for combined services such as telephony, Internet and, on many occasions, television (double- or triple-play), with data showing that 71 percent of all broadband connections concern such packages, up from 54 percent a year earlier. In total, the penetration of broadband Internet in the country came to 18.6 percent in June. There was a 45 percent decline in new connections in the second quarter on an annual basis, attributed to the ongoing financial crisis and the government’s austerity measures. There were 82,000 new connections in the April-June period, taking the total number of broadband connections in Greece to some 2.1 million euros. There was also a rise noted in the number of Internet users through cell telephony networks. The Observatory suggested that 242,143 cards had been activated through a computer by end-June, which constitutes 7.5 percent growth since last December.