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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. 


A website warns of ads impostor > so be warned! March 20, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet & Web, Police & Crime.
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The online classified ads website www.bazaraki.com yesterday warned that an imposter claiming to be a representative of the site was calling up customers requesting payment for ads, which are actually free.

According to the director of the website, Saskia Koper-Groenevelt, “a woman called up a man who placed an ad for construction work and claimed to be calling from bazaraki.com, requesting money in order for the advert to be renewed or upgraded for the price of 97 euro. Luckily the man said he would think about it and gave no money”.

Bazaraki.com is in fact a free service. The company is investigating the possible number of victims and is considering taking legal and other actions.

If you have been contacted by someone claiming to be a representative of Bazaraki.com asking for money for ads, kindly email info@bazaraki.com immediately.

Web tightens for Internet crimes in Greece February 29, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet & Web, Police & Crime.
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Greece is set to enhance the powers given to authorities to investigate Internet crimes following a series of defamation suits against the people behind the controversial press-gr news blog, it emerged yesterday.

The Justice Ministry is working on a bill that will give police the right to examine the personal data of anyone suspected of conducting an offense online.

Service providers will also have to take immediate steps to preserve any information that pertains to someone suspected of an electronic crime.

Police will also be allowed to conduct their investigations in real time and not have to wait for an offense to be committed in order to collect information about a suspect.

Authorities came up against a brick wall yesterday in their attempt to find out who had posted an allegedly libelous story on the press-gr blog while using a computer inside Parliament.

The blog has come under scrutiny after more than 150 people filed libel suits against the people that run it. One of the controversial items appears to have been uploaded by an MP or someone else working in Parliament.

However, Parliament’s general secretary Nikos Stefanou said yesterday that the Internet Protocol (IP) address provided by the police is one of 25 that is available to some 1,500 computer users in the House. He also said that there was no system set up to monitor the use of computers in Parliament.

Officers also checked out two other places from where messages were posted on the blog. Both were Internet cafes, one on Syngrou Avenue and one near Syntagma Square.

Press-gr is a news blog that hosts comments on politics, social and diplomatic issues by users who are frequently anonymous and often use abusive language. The blog is hosted by Web search giant Google, which has agreed to help Greek authorities with their enquiries.

UPDATE > March 1, 2008 >>> No threat to blogs, says PM

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis denied yesterday opposition accusations that the government is seeking to clamp down on the freedom of Internet users in the wake of a probe into a news blog that prompted defamation suits from government politicians.

PASOK leader George Papandreou accused the government of «viewing every young person with a computer as a potentially dangerous blogger» after the Justice Ministry announced plans this week to give authorities greater powers to look into possible offenses conducted online.

Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) politician Nikos Voutsis said the government was in danger of «throwing the baby out with the bath water.» «We must not develop a prosecutor’s culture with regard to blogs,» said Voutsis.

Karamanlis said that the government has no intention of reining in the freedom of bloggers to express themselves and that Greece is simply adopting international regulations that it is obliged to make part of its legal framework.


Greek IT rate improving February 28, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet & Web.
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Greece is converging with the e-Europe indices but the road to meeting European Union penetration levels in information technology is still long, according to the indices for Greece last year.

The data published yesterday by the country’s Observatory for Information Society show that Greece is moving closer to the EU index for companies with more than 10 employees.

There is also a now common “digital profile” between Greeks and other Europeans under the age of 35 years. On the other hand, small companies with up to nine people, which are the majority of Greek enterprises, remain far behind the basic EU standards.

The age group of between 35 and 54 years also lags behind their fellow Europeans in the use of information technology.

The indices show a greater present rate of penetration in Greece than in the rest of the EU. In the 2005-2007 period, the portion of households with access to the Internet at home in Greece had an average increase of 11.7 percent per year, against just 6 percent in the EU.

However, general use of the Internet in Greek households stands at just three-fifths (60 percent) of the EU average and at half that of the old 15 members of the bloc.

After Attica, the regions of the Southern Aegean, Crete and the Ionian Islands have the greatest use of the Internet, which, according to the president of the Observatory, Nikos Christodoulou, is due to the tourism market’s demand for the presence of tourism bodies on the World Wide Web.

Another important finding is that cost is no longer an obstacle to entering the “digital society,” at least compared with the cost in other EU states.

The survey showed that the cost of acquiring a computer in purchase power units is lower in Greece (537 euros, including value-added tax) against an average of 660 euros in the EU.


Greek Parliament awards software contract February 26, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet & Web, Technology.
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Greece’s Parliament awarded Globo PLC a one year contract, valued at 622,000 euros, to provide specialised software, services and equipment to digitalise and document newspapers, maps, books and other documents for the Parliament’s Library.

Globo said the contract is part of a 1.7 million euros project with the Greek Parliament and said it will provide the services along with its partners, Greece’s Info-Quest SA and AMS.


Watchdog may need to study Microsoft’s Greek deal February 7, 2008

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The Competition Commission will intervene and cancel the contract Greece has signed with Microsoft if it is found to be in breach of European Union legislation on competition, the commission’s president, Spyros Zisimopoulos, told a parliamentary committee yesterday.

He was asked by deputies who are Institution and Transparency Committee members whether the agreement ratified recently by Parliament had a monopolistic character. However, New Democracy Deputy Manolis Kefaloyiannis stated that the contract does not exclude rival software companies.

Zisimopoulos stressed that this is a hard case which the Commission may need to examine: “If the legislation concerns only the national competition law, then the national commission does not have the right to intervene,” he said.


Greece’s five-year Internet catch-up plan February 6, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Internet & Web, Telecoms.
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Greece plans to spend 3 billion euro ($4.4 billion) over the next five years to catch up with other European Union countries in the usage of high-speed Internet and new technologies.

About 2.5 billion euro will be spent to create a fiberoptic network that will give at least 2 million Greek homes access to broadband services, according to an e-mailed transcript of a speech yesterday by Transport and Communications Minister Costis Hatzidakis.

“New communications technologies mean innovation, competitiveness, growth, quality of life,” Hatzidakis said. “Greece has been a laggard in the use of new technologies. It is now in our grasp to move forward.”

Greece has consistently trailed behind its European Union partners in broadband usage, hobbling foreign investment and competitiveness. Greek broadband penetration rose from 0.1 percent in 2003 to 7.1 percent in 2007, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. That still lags the average of 18.8 percent for OECD countries, and places Greece behind new European Union member states such as Poland and Hungary.

The Greek broadband gap has been blamed on high prices for personal computers and Web connections and the lack of Internet and PC education in schools. Successive governments have also failed to make Internet usage relevant to the wider public. In May 2006, European Information Society Commissioner Viviane Reding said Greece trailed Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Croatia and Egypt in providing government services over the Internet.

Financing for the plans will come from the Greek budget, European Union resources and the private sector, Hatzidakis said, without providing details. Building the new infrastructure will aid Greece’s ambitions to be an international communications hub, he said.

Greece’s geographic position may enable it to be a data transport point between Europe and the Middle East and Asia.