Interview with Prof. Konstantinos Masselos, President, Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT), Greece

Interview with Prof. Konstantinos Masselos, President, Hellenic Telecommunications and Post Commission (EETT), Greece


According to the European Commission’s annual report, Greece has made significant progress in improving its telecommunications sector, notably in its very high-capacity Networks and 5G coverage. In April, EETT announced that investments of around €1 billion per year had already been planned locally over the next five years. How would you assess the strengths of Greece’s telecommunications sector compared to its EU counterparts?

Greece is a member of the European Union, and so we need to comply with the EU strategic targets. A year ago, the European Union approved the “Digital Decade Policy Program” where two connectivity targets are defined for EU for 2030. The first one is for fixed connectivity for all households and users in Europe to have access to connections of 1 Gigabit per second by 2030. The other objective is regarding wireless mobile networks. All populated areas in Europe should be covered by 5G or an equivalent technology by 2030. We work in Greece towards these objectives. Today the focus is on the deployment of 5G networks and on FTTH (Fiber to the Home) networks. The 5G and mobile networks situation in Greece is quite good. Even with 4G, we had very good coverage that was considered average within the European Union. Most of Greece was covered by 4G services.

Regarding 5G, today we are at 86% coverage which is already above the average of the European Union (81%). These services are offered mainly through the 2.1 Gigahertz band using dynamic spectrum sharing, which is an easier way to deploy 5G. But what we would like to do is to see pioneer spectrum bands deployments in Greece soon, and in stand-alone 5G networks that will allow Greece to exploit the maximum of 5G technology, not only the standard service. This is an issue not only for Greece but for all of Europe. If you see statistics around the world, Europe lags behind other regions in the world like South Korea, U.S.A., Japan, China, etc. The success of Greece so far with regards to 5G is based on the 5G Spectrum Auction that took place in December 2020 where for the first time, we prioritized the medium and long term return of investment through the fast deployment of 5G networks.

The objective was not to raise as much capital as possible upfront (i.e. during this auction process). We decided to design an investment friendly Spectrum Auction so that we would allow operators to deploy 5G networks quickly and then get the return of investment through the incorporation of 5G services in different sectors including verticals, like logistics, transport, tourism, manufacturing, energy, and wherever possible, smart cities, etc. It is more difficult for Greece to converge to the rest of the European Union and catch up on the fixed network because traditionally Greece has been a country with a fixed copper network.

In 2018, the coverage of Greece with fiber to the home networks (FTTH) was 0%. According to recent reports from the European Commission, the coverage today is 28% of households covered by FTTH networks. The Fixed network market is a regulated market, but the mobile market is not regulated in Europe. The fixed wholesale local access networks market is regulated so we tried to develop a regulatory framework that would incentivize investments in Fiber to the Home networks to speed up the deployment and catch up to the rest of Europe, while still preserving adequate competition in the market. Coverage of Greece today with FTTH is 28%, against 56% for the EU average coverage, so we are still below but our growth rate is one of the fastest in Europe as we are catching up.

We have presented different regulatory interventions to incentivize the deployment of FTTH’s networks, including the cost model for wholesale prices in the local access of the incumbent operator, introduced in 2020. We followed up with the new market analysis for wholesale local access in 2023 where, for the first time, we partly deregulated the FTTH specific part of the market to incentivize investments and speed up the deployment of FTTH networks. There are also   investment proposals from companies in the energy sector that plan on entering the telecommunications market, taking advantage of their infrastructure assets to reduce the deployment costs. We have seen a lot of announcements for investments in FTTH, and this is very positive.

The objective of the regulation is to create an environment to incentivize investments and to come up with interventions that reduce network deployment costs. This also has to do with long administrative procedures that create overheads. The third thing we need to address in the future and maybe intensify our efforts is the demand side. We want to build networks, but we want these networks to be accessible to the citizens and the consumers because we want to support the digital transformation of the country. Ideally, we want everybody to use these very high-speed connections but also to make these networks financially sustainable in the long run.


Greece also ranks 25th out of 27 Member States in the EU Digital Economy and Society Index. So where does the country telecom sector play into the Government’s plans to fully digitize by 2025?

The EU Digital Economy and Society Index is a composite index. It is analyzed in several sub-indices in several levels of hierarchy.  Connectivity is only one of the four top level sub-indices of DESI while in 5G sub-indices of connectivity Greece is already above EU average.

As an independent authority, we do not fund the deployment of networks. We create the regulatory environment that incentivizes investments from private companies or support subsidies projects by the government for the deployment of networks. We need to make sure that upcoming projects from the Government that aim at deploying FTTH networks are successful. The issue of switching off copper network becomes of utmost importance in this context to avoid having legacy network competing in prices FTTH networks.


One of EETT’s main jobs is to defend the rights of consumers. You recently launched a giant independent study to compare the Greek mobile telephone sector to that of other EU member states. In the summer the market ran into challenges over the high prices of mobile usage and possible contract increases. How has EETT and the government reacted to Greece’s high prices for mobile consumers? What next steps need to be taken to create a more sustainable system considering inflation and other economic challenges?

The mobile market is not regulated so the prices and the quality of services will be determined by the competition of the market. In the mobile sector we have 3 operators in the market in Greece. We started with high prices, but if you compare prices in electronic communications from the second half of 2017 to the first half of 2023, according to the real data of the market, the cost per gigabyte in Greece has been reduced by 86%, which is huge. Our data and our studies prove that Greece is improving its position compared to other countries.

We recently compared Greece to 11 other European Union countries with regards to the cost per gigabyte since 2018, and Greece ranks 9th out of 12 countries, it gained 3 positions in 5 years, which is not easy because competition in other countries is also strong. Even in the Digital Economy and Society Index of European Commission, Greece was 24th and 26th in the report of mobile and fixed broadband prices in Europe in 2018, in prices of mobile and fixed services respectively. However, according to the latest available report (2021) from the European Commission, Greece is in position 18 and 19 respectively. So, these means that we gained positions compared to other countries, and we see the improvement in the prices. I see a constant trend towards the quick reduction of prices. We are one of the fastest countries in Europe regarding the reduction of the cost per gigabyte of mobile data, and with regards to the increase of the mobile data consumed per user on average.

We made attempts to get some regulatory measures and enhance the competition. For example, with the 5G Spectrum Auctions, we did not want to get as much money as possible from mobile operators but to allow them to use their funds for network deployment and then keep retail prices at lower levels. We also allowed passive and active infrastructure sharing as a measure to reduce network deployment costs and thus keep retail prices lower. We support the introduction of Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) into the Greek market, as another way to increase competition and achieve better prices, better quality of service and innovative services for the consumers. These are a few things we have been trying to do.

In fixed broadband, the wholesale local access market is regulated and through this regulatory framework we try to secure good competition for the benefit of the consumers in terms of prices and quality of service. The current regulatory framework was introduced in the beginning of 2023 and tries to strengthen competition by applying certain remedies to the incumbent but at the same time to incentivize investments. As expected, emphasis is given on FTTH networks.

Also, in fixed broadband networks we see encouraging data as regards prices. The average price for fixed connections of 100Mbps, in the last two years, has decreased by 30%. Also in 2022, packages with speeds of over 200 Mbps appeared for the first time and at prices quite competitive with the European average. All this led to an increase in the number of broadband lines of speeds 100Mbps and above (regardless of technology) by 468% from 2020 to 2022.


Innovation is tightly linked to the telecommunications sector. What are some of the latest and most remarkable innovations are that have emerged on the Greek telecom market? 

Traditionally the ICT is a sector of innovation. For example, Greek universities have been quite active in research over the past 30 years very actively participating in research projects across Europe. Innovation is key for competition. In the telecom sector I think it becomes a priority for the operators. We want to see innovation technologies being used to reduce the deployment costs and to speed up the deployment of very high-capacity networks. This is one part, and the other part is to offer innovative services to consumers, so that they are more interested in subscribing to and becoming part of the digital transformation of the country.

Beyond the tech, the regulatory frameworks and, equally importantly to the networks infrastructure, we also need to look deeper into innovation on the applications side. 5G needs to enable small businesses launching new/digital products or larger businesses becoming more efficient. We need 5G in transportations, in logistics, in tourism, in industrial applications. We need 5G to enable the manufacturing and offering of more competitive products and services. We need the ‘economically contributing part’ of the telecommunication networks in our economies and not only the consumption related one.


EETT was established in 1992 to regulate the telecommunications sector, the commission has grown considerably, having taken on the responsibility of monitoring the postal and radio sectors. Tell us about EETT’s ethos and responsibilities and the services it provides to the citizens of Greece. What is EETT doing to help the government provide secure and sustainable services and policy changes related to the segments it operates?

EETT is the regulator for the electronic communication market in Greece and the regulator for the postal market in Greece. We have mandates in spectrum management and monitoring, shared with the government and the Ministry of Digital Governance. EETT is also exclusively the Competition Commission for electronics communications and post. We are both regulator and Competition Commission Authority for these 2 markets. This is not a widely adopted model in EU or globally but still offers advantages. For example, this model allows competition enforcement to be based on the sector specific know-how, allows the application of an optimal mix of competition law enforcement and regulatory solutions, and also allows regulators to take into consideration competition principles when issuing regulatory frameworks.

These were the original responsibilities and the original mandate of EETT. Recently we have seen it become more involved in digital regulation, which is the global and European trend anyhow. This Digital Services Act is a very important new mandate that will come to EETT (EETT will become the Digital Services Coordinator for Greece). We are also involved, for example, in the enforcement of the EU IP Copyright Directive in Greece where we will act as kind of dispute resolution Authority for renumerations from digital platforms to the media publishers and both the traditional and electronic press. We also have mandates with regards to blocking the transmission of terrorist content in the context of Greek legislation. Soon I expect to see electronic communications regulators in Europe becoming involved in AI regulation (AI Act) and in data regulation (Data Act).

In principle I would say that our strategic objective is three-fold: a) to incentivize investments in electronic communications and postal (with emphasis on courier services – the last mile of e-commerce) markets, b) to promote open and sustainable markets including digital markets and c) to empower end users.


How open is Greece’s telecommunications sector to foreign direct investment, particularly American investors? How could it benefit from increased American investment in particular?

Attracting investments is a priority for any country. One of the first things investors look for in a country to invest in is the regulatory environment, alongside some other key issues such as stability and taxation. We need to create an investment friendly environment. We want a light regulatory environment with optimized administrative procedures, with lower fees and lower taxation, for example, that gives incentives to enterprises to invest in the country. In the electronic communications sector, I still see space for investments, especially in fixed networks and FTTH network deployment.

We see information and communications technologies converge more and more, so we do not only need networks, but we also need data centers infrastructure because networks are strongly capped with cloud services. There are lots of announcements for investments in Greece also in this area. I think Greece improved quite a lot recently in becoming an attractive environment for investments in ICT.


What is needed for Greece to reach its potential as a telecommunication leader in Europe. What sort of next steps does it need to take in this regard?

Sustaining a regulatory environment that is attractive for investments is a consistent effort. We need to optimize our regulatory environment continuously and adapt to challenges to sustain this inward investment flow into the country. For example, there are continuous discussions about the introduction of new regulation in EU. We need to follow the European framework for regulation, but we need to be careful to avoid overregulating and becoming a less attractive environment for investments.


You stepped up as President of EETT at the beginning of 2018. How would you define your key priorities now as President?

The deployment of FTTH networks remains a priority. In 2024, we will revise our cost model for the wholesale local access market in fixed networks. This is part of our regulatory framework for fixed networks, and we need to make sure this revision will further incentivize the deployment of FTTH networks. This is an area where we need to catch up with the rest of Europe and then set the basis for saving the European objectives of one gigabit per second connectivity for Europe in 2030.

The enforcement of the Digital Services Act is critical and will become a key job for us in the next years. In 2024, it will be a priority because this is the beginning. We need to start working on completely unique, innovative regulation. No regulator in Europe has relevant experience so far, and this will be a challenge.

At the same time, we need to consider sustainability issues of the telecommunications sector because, in parallel with our connectivity objectives we need to work on optimizing the environmental footprint of the networks. Under the European Green Deal, Europe aims to become climate neutral by 2050. Therefore, we need to analyze the environmental footprint of the communication networks and see what kind of policies we need to introduce to achieve these environmental objectives.

To summarize, our key priorities for 2024 are the regulatory framework for FTTH deployment, the beginning of enforcement of the Digital Services Act and working more intensively on the sustainability and environmental issues of telecom sector.


Do you have a final message for the readers of USA Today?

Greece is trying very hard to further speed up digital transformation and to become a hub for innovation in ICT. We understand that establishing a friendly regulatory environment for investments and innovation is always a priority. We are fully open to engage with stakeholders that would see opportunities in Greece in these sectors.