In previous years travelers adventuring to Greece’s remotest villages and islands were stranded digitally. The Internet was just not available. All that is changing fast because of an EU project to give Wi-Fi access to locals and tourists at these remote destinations.
The project has a bold scope, to deliver internet access to some 5,000 villages that previously had either slow or nonexistent web access. In places like remote Zagori, famous for rafting and hiking, tourists have been totally cut off from the outside world digitally speaking. The good news is, bookings to the region seem to be increasing in correlation to connectivity. Zagori’s Mayor George Soukouvelos told reporters recently:
“There has been a 30 percent increase in tourist bookings. Secondly, our agricultural products are sold all over the world, via the Internet. Our village, our region has come out of isolation.”
The total budget for this EU project is €199,715,75 euros. So far Greece’s state-run telecommunications company OTE has installed 12,000 kilometers (7,456 miles) of optical fiber in more than 2,000 remote villages and has provided broadband Internet in 320,000 inhabitants and now the OTE network in these remote villages has a penetration capacity of up to 25% and it’s increasing all the time. Antonis Tzortzakakis, General Secretary of |Telecommunications and Posts, Ministry of Digital Governance told Euronews recently:
“What we see is that a number of startups or businesses have been stabilized in these areas, and remain there without having to move their facilities to more urban areas due to this simple connection that they can use.”
Back in July, the Greek Department of Telecommunications announced plans to install 3,000 public Wi-Fi hotspots all over the country starting next year. The hotspot locations will include both open-air and enclosed public spaces, such as city squares, playgrounds, libraries, museums, and pedestrian zones.
The initiative funded by EU ESIF and ERDF programs has a budget of €14.8 million euros and is to be implemented by the Greek ministry. The Greek free Wi-Fi part of WiFi4EU is part of the overall effort to create coverage throughout the European Union.