The digital developments in Greece and the operation of 5G mobile phone networks will help transform the country into a great destination to work and retire in, Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said during a meeting with heads of the Deutsche Telekom Group and subsidiary Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE).

Mr Mitsotakis noted that the meeting was taking place the day after the completion of a single auction for four 5G networks, “a process that brought in 372 million euros to public coffers.”

He clarified that the majority of available bandwidth was auctioned off, but an excluded part will be turned over free of charge to universities, startups and creativity centers. In addition, he noted that 25 per cent of fees paid by provides for 5G will be earmarked for the Faistos Fund, which will in turn support startups working on applications and services based on the new networks.

“We want to create an ecosystem in Greece around 5G,” he said, also referring to a first-time “digital bible” that will include all large infrastructural projects digitising the state and the economy. “I believe we have the brain power and talent that can do this and serve this. We want to turn Greece into a destination where people work and retire from. Connectivity plays a pivotal role in this overall plan.”

The participants at the meeting carried out the first 5G video call in Greece the same day Cosmote, part of the OTE Group, announced the commercial opening of the 5G network.

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The first 5G network in Europe started operations in Germany, the second in Austria and the third in Greece, Deutsche Telekom Group CEO Tim Hoettges said at the meeting. “For us, the bandwidth is our property asset on which we build our homes,” he said, adding that the group invests 17 billion euros on an annual basis, and 500 million euros in Greece solely for infrastructure.

He said that German engineers will ensure 50 per cent of the Greek people have access to the network by the end of 2021, and all road networks full access in the next two years.

The operation of the new high-speed networks will provide Greece with multiple opportunities in the coming years, and create “thousands of new jobs and great added value to the Greek economy,” State Minister and E-Governance Minister Kyriakos Pierrakakis said.

Cosmote and OTE are fully committed to carrying out their investment plan as quickly as possible, Michalis Tsamaz, president and CEO of OTE, Deutsche Telekom’s subsidiary, said. “We want to provide coverage to at least 50 pct of the Greek population by the end of 2021,” he noted.

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The meeting was attended as well by members of the prime minister’s office and Deutsche Telekom Europe head Dominique Leroy.