|Topic:||Greece’s place in the Information Society and|
|Title:||Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications|
Anastassios Nerantzis is the Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications for the Greek Government. Mr Nerantzis has been re-elected four times to Greece’s parliament. During his long career, Mr Nerantzis has served in a variety of important positions in the government and within the New Democracy party, including as General Secretary of the Hellenic Parliament; as an elected member of the Central Committee and Executive Committee and as a member of the Political Council of New Democracy. Mr Nerantzis also served as the elected President of the Parliamentary Projects Groups–Public Administration, Merchant Navy and Justice; as a member of the International Parliamentary Unit (IPU); as a member of the Policy Studies Institute and, as well, as a member of the Permanent Parliamentary Committee for Public Administration, Justice and Public Order. During his career, Mr Nerantzis also was responsible, on behalf of the New Democracy party, for the Prefecture of Samos and for the Prefecture of Lesvos. Mr Nerantzis has a diploma from the Law School of Athens. Mr Nerantzis has served as a lawyer of the Greek Supreme Court.
Greece’s participation in the Information Society is a government priority, as well as ensuring that all have the basic skills to take part in it. Broadband will significantly influence Greece’s competitiveness and will help to create jobs and stimulate the local economy. The EETT, the national regulatory authority, is actively encouraging competition in the sector and a new electronics communications law will soon be enacted. Deregulation has transformed the market from a monopoly to one with dozens of companies offering services.
Greece’s participation as an equal in the emerging Information Society is a major priority for the new government. During the last few years, while other countries were moving rapidly in this area, the absence of a comprehensive strategy and delays in its implementation put Greece in danger of being cutting off from developments in Europe and in the world. The deployment of true e-Government is one of our strategic priorities. The new information and communications technologies constitute an important tool for the creation of a modern democratic state, via the modernisation of public administration and by improving the relations between the state and the citizens. Information technology systems are already in use by the public administration. The further development of these systems will create a totally digital networking environment for public administration and will dramatically reduce the running costs, the bureaucracy and the time-consuming procedures. Citizens will be able to handle their transactions with government and local authorities online rapidly and effectively. Greece’s domestic market has grown faster because of the modernisation of private and public sectors and the investments made for the Olympics 2004. The massive infrastructure development using the 3rd Community Support Framework will be continued. The new Greek Government considers the role of information technology in further reforming services offered by public administration, agencies, local and regional authorities to be vital. The main objective is to take full advantage of public information resources and make them easily accessible to all citizens through public information networks. Fair and equal access to open networks is a prerequisite to ensure that the potential and benefits of free information flow are gained. For Greek citizens, the Information Society’s opportunities provide new challenges and benefits. The government has a duty to ensure that everybody has the basic skills to use the services offered by the networked Information Society and enjoy its benefits. Electronic mail, information services, entertainment, electronic marketplaces and new services must and will be available to everybody. Much of Greece’s population is spread across many small to medium sized towns and villages on the mainland and on islands; this makes wireless solutions such as terrestrial and satellite transmission the most suitable for local geographical conditions. We expect to see private incentives to extend wireless connectivity of these types in the near future. Our strategy for the Information Society in Greece is based on certain basic principles: equal opportunities and access for all, the creation of an environment that is conducive to entrepreneurship and innovation and the safeguarding of personal freedoms. The implementation of these principles requires cooperation between the public and the private sector. A prerequisite for achieving these is the development of the appropriate high-speed communications by means of a broadband infrastructure. Broadband Broadband, with the high-speed and always on connectivity, represents the next phase in the evolution of the Internet. Experts predict broadband will enable applications and services that transform our economy, education, health care, research, industry, security, entertainment, government and the quality of life for citizens. The deployment and usage of broadband will significantly impact the competitiveness of Greece and businesses in the near future. The factor most likely to accelerate broadband demand is the creation and deployment of easily understood, value-added business and consumer applications at prices that meet the needs of the market. New applications and services that consumers want and businesses need will provide the tipping point for broadband demand and usage. We must ensure an environment that encourages capital formation and rewards risk; we need to let the innovators innovate, and the entrepreneurs create jobs, companies and growth. Broadband will offer the Greek small and medium enterprises affordable connectivity and give them a competitive advantage, whether they are based in a city or in an isolated rural area. Bringing broadband to rural Greece will not only benefit businesses operating there, but the people those businesses employ and will stimulate the local economy. Broadband in Greece Despite some recent positive signs, including high demand for ADSL services, the figures representing the actual development of the broadband market are disappointing. Unfortunately, the political initiatives taken in the last few years were neither sufficient nor adequate to insure the growth of broadband usage. This might be due in part to the regulatory framework that existed. The market expects homogeneous rules and procedures. In accordance with the European Union’s regulatory framework, the principles of transparency and non-discrimination need to be followed by competent authorities. These will contribute to regulatory certainty and facilitate the development of competition. Electronic Communications Law Further actions, accordingly, are needed to boost the development of broadband services in Greece. A new ‘Electronic Communications Law’, following the guidelines of the European Union, is absolutely necessary in this respect. Our target, through all these changes and the new Electronic Communications Law, is to meet the expectations of growth and competitiveness of the Greek economy and eliminate the digital divide between Greece and the rest of the EU. The transposition of the EU’s requirements into this new Electronics Communications Law will be finally in place in the coming months. Unfortunately, the European Commission opened infringement proceedings against Greece some time ago because the previous government failed to communicate its plans and the measures it would take to transpose the new regulatory package. The new government is almost ready to adopt a law that not only transposes the new regulatory framework, but moves further, especially regarding the discrimination between content provider and content distributor. The new law should solve all the outstanding regulatory issues; it will focus upon the implementation problems encountered under the legislation currently in force, which transposed the old EU regulatory package. Deregulation and the National Regulatory Authority Deregulation of the Greek telecom market has transformed the market from one dominated by a monopoly to one that now has dozens of new small, medium and large ICT companies active in developing and broadening services and products. The overall performance of the EETT, the national regulatory authority, has a significant role in the Greek telecom market. The EETT has the legal authority to direct, monitor and regulate the behaviour of the Greek telecom market. The EETT plays an extremely crucial role in applying the competition law and important actions have been taken to that end. Further initiatives have been under development in order to ensure the availability of co-location, to facilitate procedures regarding facility sharing and to protect alternative operators from win-back tactics. The market, and especially the alternative fixed-line operators, is satisfied with the assignment of power to the EETT to address competition issues. Recently, EETT issued the new interconnection and leased-line rates that can be charged by the incumbent, OTE, to its rivals–the alternative fixed operators–as part of a move to bring prices down to European Union averages. OTE-fixed infrastructure Greece, under the EU and Greek law, has progressively liberalised its telecommunications sector in recent years. OTE, the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, the fixed incumbent operator, 33 per cent state owned, is a full service telecommunications group operating as a Société Anonyme–a corporation or limited company–under Greek law. Nowadays, OTE is adjusting its tariff structure, streamlining its workforce to promote organisational resilience and improve productivity; it is also enhancing its customer service to foster customer loyalty. OTE maintains its position as the only access network provider in the fixed market. As fixed network competition is still in its infancy, regulatory intervention continues to be very important in Greece. The new Electronic Communications Law will enforce the monitoring of the electronic communications markets and will address many regulatory bottlenecks. In view of the absence of a major cable operator in Greece, there are 14 alternative fixed network operators, which have begun to compete with the incumbent. The new Electronic Communications Law will play the determining role in the effort to overcome regulatory constraints and facilitate the further development of fixed networks. The development of the mobile market grows at a satisfactory rate, since competition in this market sector is quite well developed. Mobile The growth of mobile telephony in Greece has surpassed analysts’ expectations. Greece’s preference for mobile telephony, notably in conjunction with Athens’ Olympic Games in 2004, has prompted the early development of 3G (Third Generation) services. Greek mobile operators have set their sights on expanding services and offerings to consumers. Conclusion All our actions and efforts have a clear primary aim to improve the quality of life for Greek citizens and facilitate the growth and prosperity of all. This vision requires hard work, resources and solid will for its successful implementation. It also requires strong and effective collaboration between the state and the enterprises that have the expertise and know-how to implement such programmes. Modern ICT enterprises will make a significant contribution to our programmes, through their advice regarding the development of our Information Society, and they will help the public administration adopt new technological systems. We will make all the necessary investments, but these will become fruitful only through the persistent effort and inspiration of the private sector’s ICT enterprises. We have no doubt that the state will collaborate effectively with Greece’s ICT enterprises in order to realise the benefits of a true Information Society. In conjunction with Greek geopolitics, ICT investors will enjoy full access to EU markets, access to emerging Balkan markets and proximity to Middle East markets.