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Greece Joins Dark Ages

Internet use is growing - albeit at a snail's pace - and too many complaints from ordinary telephone users have made the position untenable.

You'd think things were bad enough already with this highly confused member of the European Union, what with games on cell phones outlawed two years ago, and now with a respected programmer arrested and his computer equipment confiscated because three people he met on the street claimed that after meeting him they received spam.

But things are progressively getting worse. The little Internet connectivity Greece has will soon be a thing of the past if the right wing government of Kostas Karamanlis have their way.

The Greek national carrier OTE, owned and operated by the government, are planning to raise per-minute fees for Internet connections by 75% in the daytime and 500% at night. Greece already has some of the most scandalously high rates in the European Union, and the kind of unreal hikes planned now (which ordinary surfers would dismiss as being impossible) will kill the little Internet growth the country has.

[This rate will effectively be US$10 per hour at nighttime [sic]. Ed.]

OTE are infamous for having the worst telephone infrastructure in the European Union. Their land lines are hopeless and left to rot. It's no surprise that mobile phone companies such as Vodaphone have invested heavily in Greece - and been very successful.

Most Greeks know better than to try to use land lines during office hours: in cities as small as Chania (population 70,000) it's impossible to get through between 9:00 and 5:00. The condition of OTE's equipment is just too poor and their technical expertise almost non-existent. Greeks instead use their cell phones for almost everything: it's the only way to communicate.

Rigging the country with ADSL infrastructure is even more difficult. The mountainous terrain does not make it easy to draw lines; there are vast areas that can't get telephone connections even today. Moreover, the expertise in ADSL is also non-existent, and the hair-pulling tales of how ADSL simply does not work succeed one another. And the Catch-22 is that OTE force people to subscribe to ADSL before they're told the system simply will not work.

The move by OTE - which is currently stormed by protests and which still has to pass review but which is expected to be in place by 1 December nevertheless - is likely made because Internet use is in fact growing - albeit at a snail's pace - and too many complaints from ordinary telephone users have made their position untenable.

Significant areas of the country are still without ADSL capabilities, and yet these people, for no reason except to once again save government face, will now be discouraged from ever connecting.

The wording of the proposal also indicates these astronomical rates are only for Internet users: ordinary telephone calls will not be so charged. This in itself is not only grossly immoral on the part of the right wing Karamanlis government - it will also drive Greece back into the Dark Ages.

All things considered, it's obvious Greece doesn't yet deserve to be a part of the European Union.


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