5G - a driver for growth and development in Greece

5G - a driver for growth and development in Greece

Greece has deployed 5G trials in five cities as of March 31, 2020.In July 2020, Accentureconducted an integrated study on 5G, entitled “Fuel for Innovation: Greece’s Race to 5G”. The report states that 5G will change Greece’s life and businesses. 5G is recognized to support the development of a wide range of innovative applications such as remote healthcare and E-governance. Accenture analysis reveals that 5G has the potential to uplift GDP up to $6,27 Bn and to create up to 46,000 new jobs by 2028.

The first 5G trial in the country was launched in the municipality of Zografou, by Cosmote, achieving internet speeds of over 12Gbps, 60 times faster than today’s 4G speeds. As for Trikala, Vodafone launched a series of 5G pilot projects including smart parking, solid waste collection, smart water management, smart energy, and remote surgery, according to Accenture report.

For the time being, the main concerns for telecommunications services in Greece are cost, speed, and security.  Accenture has conducted a survey of 600 people on their perception of 5G deployment. The young generation recognized the importance of high-speed internet connectivity. Around 76% of participants in the survey agreed on the importance of securing a 5G leadership among Southeast Europe. While 72% recognized the importance of having access to a secured wireless network. According to the report, consumers are willing to pay a premium for 5G services for an improved communication experience.

Greece’s National Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT) is expected the auction to 5G spectrum in the fourth quarter of 2020 aiming to launch commercial 5G by 2021. Telecom operators are expected to deploy a non-standalone (NSA) 5G network before migrating to standalone (SA) network. For operators, the investment in spectrum auction is crucial. Thus, they shed light on the importance of the simplification of the regulatory framework as well as reducing the cost for the spectrum auction.

On April 30, 2020, Digital Governance Minister Kyriakos Pierrakakis and government spokesman Stelios Petsas, signed off on the granting of rights of use for radio frequencies in the 700 MHz frequency band. Thus, the Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT) has been granted the right to proceed to auction the 700 MHz spectrum for the deployment of 5G networks nationwide.

Greece’s largest mobile Communications services provider Cosmote, has selected Ericsson as its sole 5G radio Access Net (RAN) vendor under a major network modernization deal, according to a press release published by the vendor on March 24, 2020.

Not everyone in Greece is dying for Digital Transformation. In fact, in December 2019, the City of Kalamata decided to suspend a 5G pilot following a series of protests against 5G health implications, according to Politico. However, the Covid-19 pandemic forced everyone to go digital even Kalamata.

On March 20, 2020, a petition entitled “Stop 5G Mobile Networks in Greece” was launched aiming to ask the Greek Minister of Health, Vasilis Kikilias, to pressure the government and stall 5G deployment efforts until the technology is deemed safe.

Greece – along with Portugal and Slovenia – have not yet fulfilled the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Implementing the GDPR might affect the Greek Government decision regarding allowing Huawei to provide equipment for 5G network infrastructures following US cybersecurity concerns related to the Chinese telecom giant. The GDPR implementation means adding more security layers to what will pass through the network.