Tide of Protest Against OTE Sweeps Greece

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan–Liberty Radio)–There is a growing discontent with the action of the OTE telephone company in Greece. Those protesting are Internet users.

"OTE is trying to isolate the Greeks from the rest of the world," the Greeks maintain. It has become clear that an increase in telephone rates was also effected in Greece. Since January 1–OTE raised tariffs of local telephone exchanges by 50 percent. Currently–OTE charges $1.26 from non-subscribers of the Greek Telecom for one minute of using Internet–whereas Telecom subscribers pay 96 cents per minute. Meanwhile–in other countries one minute of Internet use costs 3-6 cents–for example in Germany (5-10 pfennigs).

On December 9–1997–Reuters reported that OTE expects a handsome revenue from ArmenTel estimated at about $60 million. The deal made with Armenia is different from Telecom’s other deals. No country–even with the most widespread Orthodox traditions–had ever trusted half of its telephone network facilities to the Greeks.

It is typical of the Greek Telecom to get into scandals after successful deals. In Romania–for example–the company for many months refused to transfer the promised hundreds of millions of dollars to this country’s budget.

Another important circumstance is that the Greeks in fact can resell at a higher price any amount of its ArmenTel shares to other companies without permission of the Armenian government. In fact–the Greek Telecom is intending to sell 10 percent of its ArmenTel shares to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In 2003–Telecom will lose its monopoly in Greece–while its monopoly in Armenia will last till 2013.

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