With Internet connection problems occasionally popping up in Greece and plans for a national network to set up hot spots at least a year away, the European Union has approved a 300-million euro ($334.39 million) plan for a superfast broadband network across the country.
The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and private investors. The network will offer full access to all operators on a non-discriminatory basis while the country’s telecoms watchdog Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT) will control the access prices.
The European Commission said the scheme would increase competition in the Greek broadband market and also contribute to the EU executive’s telecoms connectivity objectives for the bloc, the news agency Reuters reported.
It’s often difficult to keep the Internet going, even at homes or businesses supplied by major telecommunications companies in Greece, but some 3,000 public Wi-Fi hotspots across the country are expected to be in operation in 2020.
Greece ranks only 72nd in the world for Internet connection speed, behind even Romania and Bulgaria, and 22nd in mobile download speed, according to ratings from Akamai Technology.
The plans for widespread free Wi-Fi across the country include open-air and enclosed public spaces, such as city squares, playgrounds, libraries, museums, and pedestrian zones, said Greece’s Department of Telecommunications and Post, reported Wi-Fi Now.
The main goal of the project is to cover as many public access areas as possible throughout Greece including many islands and popular tourist destinations. The initiative is mostly funded by European Union programs ESIF and ERDF with a total budget of 14.8 million euros ($16.67 million,) implemented by the Greek ministry of Digital Policy, Telecommunications, and Media.
The locations will be identified and proposed by municipalities across Greece and will mostly focus on parks, squares, pedestrian areas, various educational facilities, health centers, and public transportation, the report said.
Once installed any of the new Wi-Fi hotspots will be able to connect up to 80 concurrent users, the government said, and users won’t have to enter personal data but there will be a time limit on usage, likely an hour, before then reconnecting once again.