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Greek Internet Users Still Low On European Scale

The basic causes for the low penetration rate of the Web are two: the relatively high cost of access and the lack of Greek content

The number of Internet users in Greece remains low in comparison with other European countries – only six percent of the population, despite a huge rise this year. According to the latest available data, the number of Greek Internet users is now between 500,000 and 600,000 from an estimated 400,000 at the end of 1999.

The basic causes for the low penetration rate of the Web are two: the relatively high cost of access and the lack of Greek content which would attract users’ interest. The latest indications, however, are that progress is fast being made in both areas. Monthly standard charges have come down considerably in recent months as a result of strong competitive trends, while the launching of a single nationwide call number used by almost all providers has also made the connection through telephone lines much cheaper.

Monthly standard charges have come down from about 8,000-10,000 drachmas when the Internet was launched in Greece in 1996 to about 5,000 drachmas now (the average rate of the three main providers, OTEnet, Forthnet and HOL) plus VAT. Recent offers, such as by OTEnet, which applied up until September 16, have brought rates even lower. Similar competitive rates are offered by Internet Hellas and Compulink, whose e-free package give 30 hours of access within a month for only 2,360 drachmas. About 100,000 users are estimated to have subscribed to x-treme, a provider offering free access in return for the permanent presence of a number of advertisements on the screen.

The recent appearance of a number of portals has helped improve Greek content. These include in.gr of Lambrakis Press (DOL), i.boom of the Ideal group, e-one and flash.gr of the Intracom group, which are reportedly planning advertising campaigns that will make the potential of the Web more widely known in Greece. In fact, the rapid rise in the number of users coincides with the appearance of the first portals.

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