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Cyprus broadband use growing, but short of the EU average March 20, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet & Web, Telecoms.
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Broadband penetration in Cyprus had increased from 9% to 14% during 2007, which is a satisfying development, but despite the rapid growth it is still relatively low when compared to the EU average.

Eight EU member states are currently world leaders in broadband deployment with penetration rates higher than the US in 2007. Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Sweden have each penetration rates over 30% at the end of 2007, while United Kingdom, Belgium, Luxembourg and France had still higher rates than the US which was 22.1% in July 2007.

Over 19 million broadband lines were added in the EU in 2007, the equivalent of more than 50,000 households every day. The broadband sector generated estimated revenues of 62 billion euros and Europe’s overall penetration reached 20%. However, there is considerable scope for further consumer benefits from a reinforced single market, strengthened competition and reduced regulatory burden for market players.

The telecoms sector in the EU is worth nearly 300 billion euros (2% of EU GDP) and grew by 1.9% last year. 2007 was also the fifth consecutive year of increased investment in this sector, exceeding 50 billion euros (similar to the US and higher than China and Japan put together).

The mobile sector continues to be the largest in the telecoms market, with mobile revenues up by 3.8% to 137 billion. Mobile penetration rose further, to 112% compared to 103% in 2006. 3rd Generation (3G) mobile penetration doubled to 20% in 2007, now representing over 88 million subscriptions. As 3G took off, mobile data services grew by around 40%. While fixed telephony revenues declined 5% compared to 2006, with customers switching to mobile and IP services.

Cyprus mobile penetration reached 119% in 2007, which is above the EU average (111.8%). It has to be noted that mobile call termination charges in Cyprus are the lowest in Europe.

Incumbent operators hold more than 46% of broadband lines and in 7 EU member states control more than 60% of broadband connections. In Cyprus, Luxembourg and Finland, the incumbent’s broadband market share is higher than 70%. Concentrating on Cyprus, the incumbent (CYTA) dominates the broadband market, having a handful 88% share, and broadband access is concentrated in the main cities rather than the countryside. There is as yet no real platform competition as DSL remains the main technology for broadband services. However, a new entrant, the strategic partner of the Cyprus Electricity Authority (PrimeTel) owns an island-wide fibre optic network built on the electricity network. Though it presently reaches end-users via the incumbent, it intends to roll out its own network to the end-users, in the longer term.

The dominant incumbent operator in Cyprus has been designated as having “significant market power” with 88% of the market. A second mobile operator (MTN) has the remaining 11.2% of the market, and both already provide 3G mobile services.

The Commission has emphasised that the price of the national roaming services should be cost based, with an appropriate margin between the incumbent’s retail tariffs and its wholesale national roaming tariff (charged to its competitor). This price element is important as the second operator has not yet completely rolled-out its own network (85% in December 2007).

The incumbent operator still has a dominant position with a market share (in terms of total revenue) of 90% for all types of fixed calls and also for international calls. Alternative operators such as MTN provide voice telephony mainly through carrier selection, pre-selection and access to the internet.

Users receive TV broadcasts mainly via analogue terrestrial transmission (88%) and satellite (8%). Nine television channels (seven free-to-air and two pay-tv channels) and 13 radio stations – all with nation-wide coverage – are offered via analogue terrestrial transmission. Cable and xDSL have each less than 5% end-user penetration and are in the early stages of development. This said 2012 has been fixed as the date for switching-off analogue broadcasts.

In trying to rollout fixed infrastructure, market players have voiced heavy criticism of the very slow granting of the necessary “rights of way”, and the different practices employed by different authorities involved in the licence granting process. In response to infringement actions initiated by the Commission, the competent Cypriot authorities have now taken steps to ensure that applications for the acquisition of rights of way will be evaluated within 6 weeks.

Mobile operators still face difficulties in that most sites in rural areas are government owned. Approval for construction can thus be a lengthy process. Legislation in order to improve this situation is still pending as it has not yet been adopted in 2007. 


Athens third from last in European property potential list March 14, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Architecture Infrastructure, Living.
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Athens ranked among the last cities in Europe in a survey ranking real estate markets for both investment and development prospects, according to survey results made public yesterday.

The survey, put together by research group Urban Land Institute (ULI) and PricewaterhouseCoopers, ranked Athens in position No 25 out of a total of 27 cities reviewed.

The Greek capital was given a low score due to the difficulties encountered regarding the execution of large projects in the city, the lack of available land and “a growing trend by developers to look for property beyond Athens. Without question, Europe is facing a bumpier ride this year than the last few years,” said Richard Rosan, President of ULI Worldwide. “The fact that many respondents remain confident about European markets points to the still-local nature of real estate. We are seeing a lot of guarded optimism.”

The survey covers countries throughout Europe and is based on surveys and interviews with nearly 500 of the industry’s leading authorities. Moscow and Istanbul took first and second place, respectively.

“Colour stories” Visual Arts Group Exhibition > Contemporary Greek Women Artists February 27, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Hellenic Light Europe.
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Five women artists representing the Greek contemporary visual scene are conversing from the walls of ArtBase Gallery in Brussels, inviting viewers to join this dialogue of colour, not as receivers but as interactive players in their story.

Ismini Bonatsou, Natassa Poulantza, Adonia Vakondios, Maria Chatzilampou and Katerina Rouka each domesticate their specific palette of colours and style proposing a distinctive visual experience through digital photography, painting, monotype and fusion.

The exhibition focuses on the expression of colour as an important element of the Greek contemporary and emerging visual art scene and puts a highlights the importance of women’s vision and artistic expression.

“Colour stories” Visual Arts Group Exhibition – Contemporary Greek Women Artists’, Art Base Espace Expos Et Concerts, Rue des Sables 29, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium. Telephone: 02 2172920. Free entrance. From 28 February to 21 March.

Related Links > http://www.art-base.be

Eurovision Song Contest conference to be held in Greece February 26, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life, Music Life Greek, Shows & Conferences.
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The University of Thessaly, in Volos, Greece, is organizing a pan European conference on the Eurovision Song Contest this coming weekend.

The conference is expected to attract a large number of fans from all over the country and the University is going to provide international fans with the opportunity to watch the conference online.

The conference, Singing Europe: Spectacle and Politics in the Eurovision Song Contest, is organized by the Department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology of the University of Thessaly in Volos, Greece, in association with the The Society of Ethnomusicology, Special Interest Group for European Music, under the auspices of the Benaki Museum of Athens, Greece. It will take place in Volos, Greece, from 29 February to 2 March 2008.

A multitude of speakers from all over Europe and the USA will discuss the various aspects of the Eurovision Song Contest. The conference will be streamed live through the University’s website so that fans from around the country and the world have the opportunity to follow the presentations.

More details on the conference as well as the full schedule can be found at > http://extras.ha.uth.gr/eurovision/en/index.asp

The conference will be streamed live at >  http://extras.ha.uth.gr/eurovision/en/live.asp

Pink Floyd live in Nicosia, Cyprus February 25, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life Live Gigs.
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Pink Floyd > Live in Concert > next May 2008 >

at the Nicosia’s International Airport > at the “Green Line” >

Nicosia is the last divided European Capital

more to follow soon, watch out this blog!

UPDATE >>> 10 March 2008

According to http://www.pinkfloydz.com/roger2008/main.htm here are some further news regarding the live appearance in Nicosia, Cyprus >

Cyprus – It’s thought this show was so close to being confirmed it wasn’t funny. However, Roger’s Manager has advised us directly that this show will not now go ahead. There’s still may be a flicker of hope that the promoters will be able to find a major sponser, but at the time of writing, this show is officially dead in the water.

Cyprus Latest We know that many Greek & Turkish Roger Waters fans are desperate to get information about Roger’s possible appearance in Cyprus on 9 May, so we sent our bloodhounds sniffing and here’s what they have come up with. First, Roger will NOT be performing at the Pantheon Art Cinema in Nicosia (as reported by CY Live). It appears this theatre only holds 600 people! We do know that Roger’s tour manager (Andrew Zweck) was in Cyprus at the end of January scouting for possible locations. It seems that Roger is very keen to play in the last divided city in Europe, and Nicosia’s ancient walls (in the buffer zone) was the obvious spot, but sadly that location has too many security problems that could not not be overcome. We know that Andrew Zweck then checked out the GSP stadium [ http://www.gsp.org.cy/GSP%20English.html ] in Nicosia (capacity about 22,000) and that he has approved that. However, the promoters are still seeking sponsors, and the future of this show depends on suitable sponsors being found. So at the time of writing, the best we can offer is that the show is planned, but will only go ahead if suitable sponsors are found. As soon as we get more news, you know where to find it.

Roger In Cyprus A date we can’t officially confirm, but we can tell you that CY Live [ http://www.cylive.co.uk/info.php?id=3 ] have Roger listed as playing the Pantheon Art Cinema in Nicosia – Cyprus on 9 May. More news when we get it.

Dazed & Confused – Pink Floyd In Cyprus Seems the media in Greece & Turkey are getting themselves somewhat confused! There’s been a flurry of stories over the last few weeks about the possibility of Pink Floyd playing there, but on closer examination it seems it’s actually Roger Waters that these stories are referring to. (Ok, we know a lot of you think Roger Waters IS Pink Floyd, but cut us some slack here please!) Now the Cyprus Mail have come out with the following screaming headline ‘Pink Floyd to play the Nicosia wall?’ The story goes on to say that the concert will take place at the Nicosia buffer zone on May 9. Before you email us, we know nothing at all about Roger performing in Greece or Turkey, but you can be assured if we do find out anything, it will appear here in a flash.


It seems, that our sources have been misleading us and we apologise for it. We strongly suggest that you also monitor the news, by visiting the above mentioned link.

Pink Floyd to play the Nicosia wall?

Teenagers are already taking out their black logo t-shirts, while adults of all ages swoon with delight as word goes round that the creative genius of Pink Floyd, Roger Waters, and his band are likely to be arriving in Cyprus this May for a concert like no other.

When rumours started circulating a few days back that they would be giving a concert on the island, no one really believed that these musical legends could possibly have reason to visit. The Pantheon Art Cinema in Nicosia then announced screenings of the cult classic, Pink Floyd: The Wall, and the rumours became rife.

Although no definite confirmation can be made, it is now looking more than likely that the group will be arriving to give a concert in the Nicosia buffer zone on May 9. As one of the most successful rock bands of all time, the London boys achieved worldwide success in the 1970s with the progressive psychedelic rock of The Dark Side of the Moon, followed by the albums Wish You Were Here, Animals and The Wall.

The organisers of the upcoming event are trying to make sure that details are finalised before they make any official statements. They do, however, confirm that negotiations are currently underway, and that the band should hopefully be playing on the Green Line in a show similar to the one given in Berlin in 1990, less than a year after the destruction of the Berlin Wall. Played to a live audience of 250,000 and a television audience of 500 million in 52 countries across the globe, the show took on historic proportions.

Concerts in Cyprus can sometimes be very risky business and the organisers are keen to make sure that everything is done right before tickets go on sale. When you’re dealing with such a big name as Pink Floyd, the promoters can be sure that thousands will show up, but they also have to be certain that the band is happy with the choice of venue and whole concept of the show.

If such a performance does take place, the one thing we can be sure of is that the ongoing division of the island will most certainly be in the limelight as foreign media will be covering the special event.

Crowds can expect an extravagant show like no other. Renowned for their lavish stage shows, the rock legends will be combining their performance with video footage playing in the background. All Pink Floyd hits will be played as well as all the songs from The Dark Side of the Moon, complemented with 3D effects and laser lights.

For such a small island, Cyprus really hasn’t done badly when it comes to concerts in the past few years. Crowds went mad over Elton John tickets a few years back, Sting drew in plenty of fans a couple of summers ago, and the Bryan Adams gig last June was heaving with overly excitable crowds, while 50 Cent was another surprise concert that had young fans of hip hop and R&B delighted in July.

With fingers tightly crossed, it seems that things are about to get even better with a show not many would ever have imagined experiencing in the capital.

A Greek party for new Boss album and tour October 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Music Life, Music Life Greek.
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Bruce Springsteen’s local fan club will host a party in Athens on Friday

Back with a new album, “Magic,” his first since 2002’s Grammy Award-winning “The Rising,” Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band are currently touring the US and begin the European leg of the tour in Madrid on November 25, the first of 13 shows planned.

bruce_springsteen.jpg  Greece, however, has not been included on the itinerary. To avoid feeling totally detached, Springsteen’s fan club in Greece, dubbed “No Surrender,” will host a party for his new album and European tour this Friday night in Athens at the Blue Bar, 8 Mesolongiou Street, Halandri, Athens.

Fans will get to hear rare B-sides as well as bootleg recordings from various stages of Springsteen’s career.

Fifty DVDs featuring rare and previously unreleased material will be given away to fans who have yet to join the club, it announced, as long as they provide the doorman with the words “I thought I was the only one who listened to Bruce Springsteen in Greece,” presumably in Greek, but English or other languages may do! Happy party time to all!

French rat Remy rocks in Greece October 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Movies Life, Movies Life Greek.
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‘Ratatouille’ supervising animator Mark A. Walsh talks about the successful mix behind the movie

ratatouille_film.jpg  ‘Ratatouille’ is fun and an esthetic pleasure to boot. ‘We animate not just the body movements, but the thoughts and feelings that are inside the body,’ says Walsh, explaining the difficulties of the project, which took four full years to complete.

If you had to describe the new animated picture “Ratatouille” in one sentence, it would be: An American rat in Paris. This is the story of a young rat that dreams of becoming a chef in the French capital.

Just a few days before the movie opened at Greek theatres, one of the brains behind this sensitive and restless little rodent and his friends, supervising animator Mark A. Walsh talked to the press. This true-blue Californian, easy and laid-back, smiling and enthusiastic about his work, likes to say he’s Californian rather than American. “You could say California is another country,” he says, on the defensive about his country’s foreign policy. But the conversation turns to “Ratatouille” and takes on a more light-hearted tone.

As supervising animator, Walsh was one of the people responsible for overseeing and coordinating the army of animators that breathed life and soul into Remy, the rat, and the other characters in the movie. “We had teams working on different parts of the movie. My role was to ensure continuity from one scene to the next,” he explains. “I had to parcel out responsibilities, say who would design which scene, make sure that the director would get exactly what he wanted and the ultimate goal was that it would all look like it had been done by one person at the end of the day.”

Walsh explains how “Ratatouille” took four full years to complete. The result is impressive not just for the high quality of its esthetic, but also for how alive the characters appear on screen. “You begin with a barrage of discussions with screenwriters and the director in order to sketch the characters: who is this character, what does he like, what does he want, what are his fears and obsessions? You always have a starting point. For example, the strong or bad characters are normally shown in triangular or square shapes; they are pointy, their shoulders stick out. The softer, quieter characters are rounder, fluffier. Mickey Mouse, for example, is made up of circles. This is why you have to know the characters you are designing from the very start. You may be able to show two characters shaking hands quite well on a technical level, but what is going on underneath? Maybe they hate each other and they’re pretending they don’t. Maybe it’s love at first sight. These hidden desires and emotions have to come across in the drawing. We always have to ask these kinds of questions.”

The Pixar team, who have already given us such gems as “Finding Nemo,” “The Incredibles” and “Cars”, has achieved truly impressive results in terms of realism, in the expressions and gestures of each individual character. “This was most certainly the hardest thing of all,” says Walsh, “especially given that drawing cartoons is an extremely tiring process. One grimace, one look, one movement of the eyebrow, the cheeks, anything, takes work. Synchronizing the lips and the words is not enough; the feeling comes out behind the synchronization. Body language is the key here. We animate not just the body movements, but the thoughts and feeling that are inside the body. Isn’t that what we do in daily life? Try to read what someone is thinking or feeling?”

The other serious consideration for the creators of “Ratatouille” was to ensure that their characters were not one-dimensional. “Colette, for example, is a tomboy, but she’s still very much a woman,” notes Walsh. “She is not your usual fairytale princess. So, just as in life, you must have characters with contradictions and this is a huge challenge for animators. People are not one-dimensional and the same goes for cartoon characters.”

“Ratatouille” is doing very well in America right now, “But not as well as in Europe, where it rocks!” says Walsh. “Our previous movie, ‘Cars,’ had a more American subject, but here, with Paris as the backdrop and a fancy restaurant as the set, well, what could be more European?”

For all his enthusiasm about Europe’s warm reception, he seems a little bit put off when we tell him that there’s a dubbed version showing in Greece. As much as we explain that the Greek public certainly doesn’t enjoy missing the wonderful voices of Ian Holm, Peter O’Toole or Janeane Garofalo, though dubbed versions of Pixar movies in Greece are extremely well done, and that subtitles do not detract at all from the beauty of the image, he remains sceptical. His thoughts however are not turned to the subtitles as he responds: “Of course, you’re in Greece. You must hear Greek.”

Remy, a young country rat, dreams of becoming a chef in Paris. When he arrives in the big city he discovers that his idol has died, so he must strike an alliance with the garbage boy of a top-class restaurant to sneak his way in and learn the culinary arts from star chef Auguste Gusteau. His family, in the meantime, are concerned how the young rodent will fare in a world where they are so despised. “Ratatouille” features the voices of Patton Oswalt as Remy, Ian Holm as Skinner, Lou Romano as Linguini, Brian Dennehy as Django, Peter O’Toole as Anton Ego, Brad Garrett as Gusteau and Janeane Garofalo as Colette.