High connection prices, no guarantees for speed

High costs and low-quality services provided by Internet providers are the main reasons why progress has been so limited in Greece until now. According to research conducted by the National Statistical Service, the high cost of home connections was the reason given by 17.6 percent of respondents in 2002 for not connecting to the Internet; in 2003, some 26.32 percent of households cited high costs as a barrier, and in 2004 the figure rose further, to 36.55 percent. Another major reason is the expensive equipment needed, according to 45.5 percent of respondents in 2004 (up from 28.81 percent in 2003 and 21.60 percent in 2002). In 2004, 26.31 percent said they did not trust the Internet, and 20.09 percent expressed concern about possible abuse of personal data. «We are the most expensive telecommunications providers in Europe, and the unit charge for connection at 0.352 euros per hour is the most expensive,» said Greek Internet Users president Nikos Vassilakos. The individual user is asked to pay a number of fixed charges in order to use the Internet, he explained. «The connection with the company that provides the service costs as much as the connection to the Internet. Added to this is the monthly fixed charge and the OTE fixed charge.» And all this for poor quality services. The Eurozone (fast) Internet is rudimentary here in Greece as the majority of the Internet service providers have not connected to the OTE ADSL network, nor is there a network of fast connections available through optical fibers. «In the fine print of connection contracts, there is a reference to the fact that connection speed is not guaranteed, a responsibility assumed by OTE, which is not in a position to provide the required technological infrastructure to companies,» said Vassilakos. «The reason for this sluggish progress is that Greece is a small country and as a result a small market, in addition to the monopolistic role of OTE,» he commented. As for OTE, he added, not much attention is paid, for example when a bill is overdue and the connection is not interrupted. Immediate-connection service was brought into operation recently, but at 750 euros the cost is naturally exorbitant. Vassilakos also referred to the prohibitive telecoms costs that a newly connected company is expected to pay, and also mentioned the possibility of future taxation on Internet usage, attributing responsibility to inadequate attention paid by the state in this area.

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