Greece has a capitalist economy with a public sector accounting for about 40% of GDP and with per capita GDP about two-thirds that of the leading euro-zone economies. Tourism provides 18% of GDP. Immigrants make up nearly one-fifth of the work force, mainly in agricultural and unskilled jobs. Greece is a major beneficiary of EU aid.
The Internet penetration rate in Greece was of 70% by the end of 2018. Many users have access to 10 Mbps lines and the number of both corporate users and consumers that have access to 24 Mbps connectivity has recently increased. Broadband development in recent years has led to achieving speeds of 2 Mbps for over 99% of households since 2012, whereas NGA has only reached 4,2% households. The number of subscriptions of wireless broadband services was 4,239,072 in 2014, ranking 25th among developed countries. In fixed broadband, Greece performed slightly better.
Greece’s telecoms market has been undergoing difficult economic conditions in recent years. Operators have been struggling financially, and the permanent lack of stability and reliability of Greek economy is expected to keep uncertainty during the next few years. The dominant player remains the incumbent telco OTE, which has experienced significant challenges but is supported by Deutsche Telekom, which now owns half of the company’s stakes.
Despite these difficulties, broadband penetration in Greece is in continuous development. The main operators have secured loans to enable them to build fibre-based networks and they plan to reach European standards by 2025. Consumers in Greece have a limited range of companies to choose, as the country still lacks a single access network, and with only a very limited reach of fibre infrastructure.
On the other hand, Greece’s mobile market is well-developed and dominated by the three mobile network operators Wind Hellas, Vodafone Greece and Cosmote.
The Greek economy averaged growth of about 4% per year between 2003 and 2007, but the economy went into recession in 2009 as a result of the world financial crisis, tightening credit conditions, and Athens’ failure to address a growing budget deficit. Deteriorating public finances, inaccurate and misreported statistics, and consistent underperformance on reforms prompted major credit rating agencies to downgrade Greece’s international debt rating, leading the country into a financial crisis. Under intense pressure from the EU and international market participants, the government accepted a bailout program that called on Athens to cut government spending, decrease tax evasion, overhaul the civil-service, health-care, and pension systems, and reform the labor and product markets. Austerity measures reduced the deficit to 1.3% in 2017. Successive Greek governments, however, failed to push through many of the most unpopular reforms in the face of widespread political opposition, including from the country’s powerful labor unions and the general public.
Hellenic Telecommunications Organization S.A. (aka “OTE”) is the dominant telecommunications provider in Greece. OTE Group offers broadband services, fixed and mobile telephony, high-speed data communications and leased lines services. In addition, the Group in Greece is involved in a range of activities, notably satellite communications, real-estate and professional training. At present, OTE companies employ about 30,000 people in 4 countries.
RELEVANT INTERNET EXCHANGE POINTS
GR-IX: Greek Internet Exchange (Athens)