OTE Turns Switch on Lightning-Fast Greek Internet Connection

OTE, Greece's biggest telecom operator, has turned on the first “fiber-to-the-home” ultra-fast connection with the promise of faster speeds coming over the next four years. (EUROKINISSI/Vasilis Rebatis)

ATHENS – With Greece still struggling to come up to speed with the Internet in some areas that show frequent breaks, the country’s biggest telecom operator OTE has turned on the  first “fiber-to-the-home” ultra-fast connection with the promise of faster speeds coming over the next four years.

Greece needs new generation infrastructure to digitalize its economy and help boost growth and tackle unemployment, the highest in Eurozone and it’s not unusual to see some public offices with paper files piled on the floor, although taxes must be filed only electronically and not by mail.
Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH), which provides a direct fiber optic connection to the user’s premises, is now below 1 percent in the country.

OTE’s new technology aims to bring that rate up to about 25 percent by 2022, upgrading internet speeds to up to 1 Gbps (Gigabit per second), which is about five times faster than up to 200 Mbps (Megabits per second) currently on offer, the news agency Reuters said.

OTE has spent about 2 billion euros ($2.34 billion) in the last six years developing a 43,000-kilometer (26,718-mile) fiber optic network, the country’s largest, offering 3 million households and businesses access to Internet speeds of up to 200 Mbps, although some neighborhoods are still spotty for coverage.

“We are bringing optic fiber to the home’s socket … we are making a gigabit society in our country come true,” OTE Chief Executive Michael Tsamaz told an event, marking the first FTTH connection.

OTE, which is 45 percent owned and managed by Deutsche Telekom, aims to expand the FTTH network to about 150,000 households out of about 4 million by the end of 2019, mainly in big cities, and gradually reach 1 million households by 2022.

The government is offering a 360 euro subsidy to low-income households to connect to superfast broadband services for two years as part of a 700 million euro scheme to boost internet connectivity across the country under an EU policy to turn Europe into a “gigabit society” by 2025, the news agency said.