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Greek Backtrack

Consumers labeled it as 'illegal' and 'an abuse of power'.

A storm of protests hit Greece after the announcement of net connection rates planned for 1 December at US$10 per hour. Consumers labeled the move by the right wing government of Costas Karamanlis as 'illegal' and 'an abuse of power'.

Only 20% of Greeks are connected, but evidently they made their voices heard anyway.

This backtrack comes after an earlier tactical maneuver where the government claimed the hike was OK because rates haven't been raised in six years (they're still highest already in the EU).

Now they're talking instead about a 'gradual' hike - which at the end of the day will mean the same thing and hurt consumers just as much.

Internet connectivity rates have to go down, not up; the local infrastructure is still way too underdeveloped to move even a fraction of the online population to broadband; even the hint of slowly rising rates - coupled with the traditional stance of otherwise doing nothing - will kill the Internet and its users to move elsewhere.

But the approval of the EETT, the national post and telecommunications commission, was necessary for the initial proposal to work - and the EETT have evidently already felled it.

The government of Costas Karamanlis have heretofore been eager to boast how much their policies would encourage Internet usage and help bring Greece at least into the last century. With the current scandal, that boasting is now seen only as - boasting, and even members of the ruling party have voiced their outrage.

The government are now trying to distance themselves from the affair, saying they had no part in it - despite their owning and controlling the policies of the firm in question.

The role of the government in the affair is under investigation; so far no further facts; but as the government are explicitly responsible for the management of the company, claiming innocence is ultimately a futile exercise.

And before contemplating any rate hikes at all, the government have to ensure their current customers are getting what they're already paying for: lines are often busy, the modem pools too sluggish to negotiate connections, established connections are regularly broken, and the effective bandwidth of 56 K modems will in peak periods fall to 200 bps or below.

Most of the difficulties are due to the disrepair of the infrastructure; trying to run ADSL on top of that has already proven to be impossible in many areas.


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