The global boom in telecommunications and telecommunications services is probably beyond Alexander Graham Bell’s wildest dreams. People love to talk, and thanks to modern technology they are free to do that anywhere at home, on the road and even over the internet. To keep up with the rest of the European Union, Greece has made massive improvements to its infrastructure in the last decade, and consumers are now able to enjoy advanced services like DSL (digital subscriber line) connections.
Before deregulation, Greek consumers knew exactly where to go for a telephone connection: the Hellenic Telecommunications Organization, or OTE (http://www.ote.gr). Deregulation introduced the element of choice as well as an element of confusion as there are about 17 companies that offer fixed or fixed wireless service. Some of these so-called alternate carriers have begun to offer basic voice connections, but for the most part you still need OTE to get hooked up.
Getting a phone line
If you do not have phone service, you can apply to OTE either in person or over the phone (tel 134, daily to 9pm) for a nea sindessi. To get connected, you will need to provide proof of a tax identification number (AFM) and an official photo ID (taftotita). There is a one-time connection charge of 29.34 euros plus VAT and an optional service charge. If you move into an apartment with existing phone service that you wish to switch your name (metavivassi), then you need to provide photo ID’s for both yourself and the previous owner and proof of AFM (for example, a utility bill on which your tax identification number and tax office are listed). There is a one-time charge of 15.40 euros plus VAT. Call waiting, call forwarding and voice mail are included in OTE’s monthly subscription fee.
Selecting a phone carrier
Consumer choice is the cornerstone of the deregulated market, and the new rules in effect since January 2001 certainly offer the Greek consumers choice and a bit of confusion. This confusion is likely to deepen as smaller telephone companies roll out new services. For now, you have two options: choosing a carrier for all specific calls. One disadvantage: separate billing from each phone company and different billing periods.
Choosing a carrier (Epiloyi forea): To connect to an alternate network from your fixed OTE connection, dial a four-digit prefix ahead of the number you are calling. Some carriers require that you sign a regular contract to access their networks, others allow you to use it on an irregular basis.
Pre-selecting a carrier (Proepiloyi forea): If you don’t want to dial a four-digit prefix, you can pre-select your carrier so that all outgoing calls are automatically routed to its network. Essentially, you have three pre-selection options: international calls; long-distance calls and calls to mobile phones; international, long-distance and mobile calls; or all calls. Pre-selection can be activated by either the alternate carrier you have chosen as your phone service provider or by written application to OTE.
Phone companies face tough competition for market share. All wage tough advertising campaigns claiming the lowest rates in order to lure consumers. But not all consumers do have the same needs or use the phone in the same way. Thus, the most economical carrier for someone who makes lots of very short local calls may not be the most economical carrier for someone whose calls are made mostly to one or two countries overseas at weekends. Also make sure to check the range of a carrier’s network; if a company does not reach, say, beyond your urban area, charges from high interconnection rates could offset the discounted rates that entice you in the first place.
ACN, tel 210.6872900 (http://www.acn.gr)
Algonet, tel 210.9558300 (http://www.algonet.gr)
Cosmoline, tel 210.8126000 (http://www.cosmoline.gr)
Forthnet, tel 210.9559000 (http://www.forthnet.gr)
Lannet, tel 210.5708300 (http://www.lannet.gr)
NetOne, tel 210.6781300 (http://www.netone.gr)
OTE, tel 210.6115011 (http://www.oteshop.gr)
Q-Telecom, tel 211.9993000 (http://www.myq.gr)
Teledome, tel 210.9569277 (http://www.teledome.gr)
TelePassport, tel 210.8209000 (http://www.telepassport.gr)
Tellas, tel 210.8113411 (http://www.tellas.gr)
Vivodi, tel 210.8893700 (http://www.vivodi.gr)
VoiceNet, tel 210.7573100 (http://www.voice-net.gr)
Prepaid phone cards are a viable option for someone in temporary housing, or without the necessary documentation for a fixed-line connection. There are two types of prepaid cards: those issued by OTE that work with the phone booths on the street and prepaid cards issued by various operators that work from any fixed-line phone. Be aware that prepaid services are also more expensive than subscription services, but offer the advantage of allowing consumers to pay for the service as they use it. Some prepaid cards offer discounted rates on international calls to specific regions, countries or cities. You can buy prepaid phone cards from kiosks and stores that sell telephony products.
Four mobile phone carriers operate in Greece: CosmOTE, and OTE subsidiary, Vodafone, Telestet, and Q Telecom. All of them both subscription and prepaid services.
Although the Greek mobile market is saturated, there is still tough competition among companies for customers through different rate schemes and programs. The first decision you need to make is whether you want prepaid (kartokiniti) or subscription (me sindessi) service.
Prepaid connections come with or without handset. Rates are higher, but there are no monthly service charges. You do not need any form of ID to purchase prepaid connection packages, which are also available from kiosks. Subscription packages charge monthly service fees that often include a set number of minutes of calls. Subscription packages usually include a free handset. Applicants must provide an official photo ID and proof of tax identification number such as a utility bill; some companies also require applicants to submit a copy of their tax return with their application.
Before choosing a service, shop around; check rates offered by competing mobile carriers as well as different rate packages offered by each carrier. For instance, if you use your phone mostly for text messaging (SMS), then look for a package that offers the lowest SMS rates. Study rate cards carefully and read the fine print: for example, if you make lots of very short calls (under 30 seconds each), then a package with free minutes included in the monthly service fee is probably not for you as this time is only aggregate after the first 20 or 30 seconds (depending on the carrier). When applying for a subscription service, find out when your contract expires.
CosmOTE, tel 210 617 7795 (http://www.cosmote.gr)
Q-Telecom, tel 210 999 3000 (http://www.myq.gr)
Telestet, tel 210 615 8488 (http://www.telestet.gr)
Vodafone, tel 800 113 3000 (http://www.vodafone.gr)
To get online, you need a telephone connection. After that, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) offer a range of options from prepaid cards for users that do not wish to subscribe to programs that allow users to log on when they want and be charged only for the time online and, or course, subscription services. Consumers also have a choice of lines, from dial-up service (PSTN) to wired options like ISDN and DSL. Satellite connections are also making their way onto the market but these are really not suited to residential needs. Large ISPs also offer options such as web-hosting services.
If you already have a fixed telephone line, getting a connection is fairly simple. Internet users incur two charges for going online: the subscription fee charged by the ISP (or the prepaid card) and connection charges.
Before selecting an ISP, you need to decide what type of internet connection you need and what type of service best suits these needs prepaid or subscription. Connection charges for PSTN and basic ISDN connections (64k) are 0.352 euros per hour at peak rates and 0.176 euros per hour at off-peak rates (10pm to 7am). There are no connection charges for DSL lines. But, remember: the faster the service, the higher the setup costs.
The first thing you need to do is decide what type of internet connection you want. If you have a slightly older computer and don’t spend more than an hour or two online, PSTN service is just fine. PSTN service uses your computer’s internal modem with a speed of up to 56k. If you only use the internet occasionally, a prepaid card may be the best choice; instead of monthly service fee, the service fee will be deducted from the card as you use it. If you go on daily, it’s more economical to subscribe.
ISDN lines are faster than PSTN lines because they have greater bandwidth. This means that they can handle more data. ISDN connections offer the advantage of a second phone line: this means you can be online but also make and receive calls at the same time. ISDN connections require a special modem which is available at 64k and 128k, but a standard 64k connection is more than adequate for residential use.
Greece has been late in introducing DSL lines, often referred to as broadband connections. DSL lines are also known as “always on” Internet: you pay only for the DSL service, with no extra connection charges for using the telephone network. DSL speeds start at 256k. The service is not yet available everywhere and is still too expensive for typical residential use, although ISPs are being pressured to lower rates.
OTEnet (http://www.otenet.gr), an OTE subsidary
Hellas OnLine (http://www.hol.gr)
Most ISPs will provide an email address with your subscription service. If you do not want to sign on for subscription service, then you can obtain a free email address from most portals such as Yahoo(http://www.yahoo.com or http://www.yahoo.gr), MSN (http://www.msn.com) or In.gr (http://www.in.gr)
Anyone can register an Internet domain name for their personal or business use. Country-coded names such as those with the .gr (Greece) suffix are considered Top-Level Domains and assigned by a national registrar. To obtain an Internet address in the .gr domain, apply at http://www.hostmaster.gr. You can also use the site’s Who-Is function to see who owns an Internet address in that domain.
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