Using the Net a must for most, but not for Greeks

Since the Internet first entered Greek households a dozen years ago, its degree of penetration is still remarkably low. Internet users are a minority in Greece; a minority often maddened by the slowness of the system, high prices they are charged, and an inability to fully exploit the benefits of the Internet that other users enjoy in Sweden, Denmark, Germany and elsewhere. There is also a general lack of trust in the Internet’s capabilities. All this accounts for the continuing absence of this now-basic technology in the majority of Greek households. Eurostat data on Internet usage has placed Greece at the very bottom of the EU’s 25 members, almost on a par with neighboring Turkey. Where Greece performs slightly better is in computer use in Internet cafes, which is also the result of the high prices charged for home connection – for companies as well as for individuals. Transactions with the public sector using a home computer are still scarce in comparison to other European countries, where citizens prefer to avoid contact with public service employees at the counter to obtain information or fill in applications. The Greek Internet Users’ Union blames the situation on the state’s lackadaisical approach – despite announcements by successive governments regarding their intention to increase the number of users – and the monopolistic role of the Greek telecoms company OTE, which is responsible for the sluggish development of new telecommunications technology in Greece’s small market.

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