Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Greece - 5G on the move...

Greece’s telecom market continues to suffer from tough economic conditions, with long-term financial strain on the public still affecting revenue and investment. However, there are signs of recovery and renewed confidence. 

Greece’s well-developed mobile market is dominated by the three mobile network operators Wind Hellas, Vodafone Greece and Cosmote. Operators continue to invest in LTE infrastructure and technologies to provide networks capable of meeting customer demand for data services. Although the MNOs have trialled 5G since 2019, commercial services await the auction of suitable spectrum: the regulator expects to auction spectrum in the 3.4-3.8GHz range later in 2020, followed by 700MHz spectrum in 2021.

All three MNOs have closely attached subsidiaries that resell their offers: Frog Mobile on Cosmote, Tazamobile on Vodafone and Q on Wind. There are hardly independent MVNOs on the market.

Their frequencies

Cosmote is the national provider with the most subscribers and the best coverage in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE. 4G is given out without surcharge to all customers including prepaid plans. 4G/LTE covers at least 95% of population in 2018. 4G+ can be found in many areas and 3CA (3+7+20) is very common in big cities achieving great speeds (up to 300 Mbps). Even if your phone does not support 4G+, the speeds that you will achieve are great. It is currently the fastest (overall) network.

Cosmote has announced the commercial launch of its 5G network in Athens, Thessaloniki and other Greek cities, with speeds exceeding 1Gbps in certain areas. The company is aiming to increase coverage to over 50% of the population by the end of 2021, with 100% 5G coverage of 2,000km of highways by the end of 2023. The 5G network is accessible to all Cosmote subscribers with compatible devices, at no additional charge and regardless of their mobile plan.

Vodafone Greece is the 2nd network in Greece. Their 4G speeds are ok-ish but don#t expect anything crazy-fast especially in remote areas or villages. 4G+ or 2CA (3+20 or 3+7) can be found in very big cities/busy areas. They claim to have 4G speeds faster than anyone else, but that is not the case.

In last years 5G spectrum auction Vodafone reportedly spent €130 million on 14 blocks in the 3.4GHz to 3.8GHz range; two blocks of 700MHz; four blocks of 2GHz; and two blocks of 26GHz.

They have now launched their Giga Network 5G, the new state-of-the-art network, with high speeds and the immediate response. With first stations in areas of Athens and Thessaloniki, the Vodafone Giga Network 5G is already operational and by the end of this financial year a population coverage of 40% will have been achieved. At the same time, through the parallel modernization of the 4G network, Vodafone 4G customers will also benefit from an improved connection experience and higher speeds - up to 50% - from day one. In addition, Vodafone already has the first 5G devices, while within two months the available devices will be more than twenty.

Wind is the smallest network provider in Greece. Their 4G speeds are usually slow and thus they are the slowest (overall) network in Greece. In many tourist attractions, Wind has done a great job and their 4G speeds are acceptable. 4G+ or 2CA is not common in Wind but when it is found, it usually is B3+B20 or B7+B20.

They have selected Ericsson to deploy their core network for standalone (SA) and non-standalone (NSA) 5G. The Swedish vendor will also supply a suite of business support system (BSS) solutions to help the telco improve customer experience and launch 5G-enabled services for both private and business users.

Wind Hellas also announced that they switched on their 5G mobile network on 18 December – a matter of days after winning frequencies in the country’s multi-band 5G spectrum auction. The network will initially serve Athens and Thessaloniki, while coverage of other major cities will follow in due course. 5G population coverage is expected to exceed 60% within three years. Certified 5G handsets include the Xiaomi Mi 10T, the Xiaomi Mi 10T Pro, the Xiaomi Mi 10T Lite, the Huawei P40 DS and the Huawei P40 Pro DS. Users can expect to receive download speeds of up to 1Gbps. 

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