It was 4 November 2013. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras had granted a rare media interview and was clear and emphatic when asked by his interlocutor, Mega TV’s Yiannis Pretenteris, “what hope could the government give to young people?”
“Today, I can promise that we will have in Greece free wireless wifi internet, in all of Greece, in a year,” Samaras said.
When Pretenteris interjected to tell Samaras that he would need to follow through on this, Samaras replied confidently that he wouldn’t have said it if he couldn’t do it.
“It will happen! And I’ve looked into it, in order to say it,” he added.
Samaras appeared sincere. He was giving a concrete and public promise to the youth of Greece, who suffer from the highest unemployment rate in the entire European Union.
In late March, Networks Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis announced that Samaras’ promise would be realised throughout Greece on schedule, ie by November of this year. He said 4,000 locations would be included in the first phase of the project, including 325 locations suggested by municipalities, 100 archaeological sites and museums and 200 ports, harbours and marinas.
The second phase would extend the measure to much larger areas of special interest, with special technical and operating requirements in terms of the network and equipment, while a third phase would extend the free wifi to universities, hospitals and public transport.
The ministry’s general secretary for telecommunications, Menelaos Daskalakis, also said that wifi systems would be installed in 1,200-1,500 buses and trolleys by the end of September, while all metro stations would have them by July.
This never happened, of course, and we’ve only 19 days’ left to go for the realisation of Samaras’ great promise to the youth of Greece.
It’s the final countdown.
* Thanks to Kostas Kallergis of the excellent When the Crisis hit the Fan blog for his help in subtitling Samaras’ sincere promise into English