EU approves 50-million-euro Greek government plan to subsidise broadband services


Africa broadband IT internet technology

The Greek government has received the green light from the European Commission for its plan to subsidise broadband services with 50 million euros.

The initiative, through which the Greek government hopes to bridge the digital divide amongst citizens by was approved the EU and will subsidise broadband services with download speeds of at least 100 Megabits per second (Mbps), readily upgradable to 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps), through vouchers worth 50 million euros.

"The Greek Superfast broadband project aims to increase the number of consumers adopting the Superfast broadband services. The voucher scheme will help more people use higher speed broadband services in areas where suitable infrastructure is available but insufficiently used. The scheme will contribute to bridging the longstanding digital divide in Greece, in line with the objectives of the EU's Digital Single Market, while ensuring that competition is not unduly distorted." said Margrethe Vestager, EU Commissioner for competition policy.

In a statement, the Commission said that "infrastructure able to provide these broadband services is already available in Greece, but the take-up is very low. The vouchers will support increased take-up by covering part of the set-up costs and of the monthly fee for a maximum of 24 months." Users will be able to activate the vouchers until March 31, 2020.

Greece will take adequate steps to avoid any undue distortion of competition, the Commission said, and in particular will monitor that the scheme is not used to merely replace existing subscriptions to other high-speed broadband services. Greece will have to submit a detailed evaluation to the Commission by December 2021.

The scheme is in line with state aid rules and contributes to the EU strategic objectives set out in the Digital Agenda for Europe and in the Communication "Towards a European Gigabit Society", the Commission said.

Digital Policy, Telecoms and Information Minister Nikos Pappas said the purpose was to provide access to the "new generation internet" for all.

Telecoms Secretary General Vassilis Maglaras added that it is the first time the European Commission approves a voucher plan, "which opens the way for the rest of the EU countries" to offer similar programmes. The government's actions, he noted, "have a great impact on all aspects of the economy. We are moving speedily with providers and related agencies towards turning Greece into a hub of new technologies."