Free wireless Internet access at 5,000 points

Expect to see people surfing the Internet soon at long-distance coach terminals. In 2009, 5,000 wireless Internet access points are to be set up all over Greece, in line with a joint commitment made by Transport and Communications Minister Costas Hatzidakis and Merchant Marine Minister Anastassis Papaligouras. The wireless access points are planned for places used by the public, particularly areas that attract tourists, such as ports, railway stations, the metro, long-distance coach terminals and airports. Response This is good news for Athenians, as three existing wi-fi points, located in Syntagma Square, Kotzia Square and Thiseion, will continue to operate for another year. It was the positive response to the WiFi Athens project that prompted the creation of new access points. Other pioneers in the field include the Municipality of Trikkaion, which gives locals free Internet access. Since the wireless network started up in Athens in 2006, more than 34,000 users have logged on 141,000 times, transferring 5.5 terabytes of data. «There has been a great response from the public,» Yiannis Larios from the Information Society Observatory told Kathimerini. «At any time of day you’ll see people at those three points, sitting at tables, on benches, even on the ground, using their laptops to access the Internet. «Tourists staying at nearby hotels are the main users of the wi-fi spot in Syntagma, while in Thiseion it’s mainly young students sitting in cafes.» In Kotzia Square, businesspeople resting for a moment on benches take the opportunity to check their e-mail. Larios explained that the Special Secretariat for Digital Planning had been designing 160 new wireless hot spots, but were beaten to it by the Transport and Merchant Marine ministries. Access will be free to anyone with a wi-fi enabled laptop or mobile phone at any time of the day and night. The ministries announced that funding for the project will come from the National Strategic Reference Framework as well as purely national sources, with an initial budget of 3.25 million euros.

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