Public Free WiFi is back to Greece

Back in the 2000s European Union had funded Public Access Points to Greek municipalities that were later shut down by the end of the funding Program. Greece’s Infrastructure Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis, announced recently that Greece could enjoy free internet access by November 2014, realizing a pledge the Greek Prime Minister Mr Samaras made several months ago to get Greece online, even if that was made to impress the crowd, it sounds that he commited to that.

According to a joint announcement by Chrysochoidis and the general secretary of the Telecommunications & Post Ministry, Menelaos Daskalakis, the first phase of the project will roll out hotspots in 302 of Greece’s 325 municipalities who applied for access, and at 100 archaeological sites and museums, as well as at 200 ports and marinas.  This effort will certainly support and boost Greek Tourism when visitors would be able to share content online and spread the word of the Greek sightseeing and landscape.

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The whole project’s budget is 15 million euros and will be assigned via open international competition. The project’s deployment and rollout will be completed by the end of 2015. Then, the network’s maintenance and operation will be carried out by the Public Sector.

In details, by the end of 2014, WiFi will be freely accessible at 4,000 public and outdoor spaces around Greece, including the public transport network. Each hotspot could simultaneously serve 40 to 50 users download speeds upto 1.5MB/sec for 30 minutes, albeit with restrictions concerning inappropriate material. It sounds sort of poor and slow system with very low data rate for someone that would like to share a picture on instagram or run similar activities. The capital, Athens is excluded of this project as it carries its own Public WiFi network, whereas the other municipalities need to point the right public spots to install the access points.

This WiFi network is not expected to allow entertaining services such as video services and YouTube, however we expect that Social Media access will be allowed. The user should be able to connect when indoor in a distance of 20 meters and 100 meters for the outdoor access point but more specific guidelines should follow.

It is quite questionable from case to case what would be the right technology to connect this WiFi access points, either indoor or outdoor to achieve the best outcome and performance. Also it would be interesting to follow the synergies that will bid for this project, the selection criteria and ofcourse the solutions that will be provided. This project aims to maintain the trend for free Internet access and the essence of the WiFi network presence even in a public format. However as the number of WiFi access points increase across a city, more than 300 or 400 access points, then it is interesting to identify which technology wireline or wireless could help plan and deploy them and at what cost? Point-to-multipoint, fiber or a combination of both when you need to backhaul those access points?

This is a research topic we are actually exploring and we will soon publish our analysis. Is 802.11n the solution and what is the maximum bandwidth in that case vs performance?

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