Greece is rich in beauty, history and literature, but not necessarily technology compared to other parts of the world. However, this is changing quickly on many fronts, including next-generation 5G networking, Metaverse investigations tied to consumer and enterprise use cases and beyond. To learn more, I recently had the opportunity to speak with a Greek government minister and participate in a hybrid physical/virtual event based in the ancient city of Patras. I want to share my insights to shed more light on what Greece is doing to catapult itself onto the world technology stage.
Investment strategies designed to spur innovation
Dr. Christos Dimas is the deputy minister for research, innovation and technology in the Ministry of Development and Investments in Greece. His title reflects a huge remit for the country, an important one given past challenges with inflation, unemployment and resulting stagflation. Greece is on a new track today, focusing on investments to spur economic growth and incubate digital transformation. Doubling down on technical innovation will benefit the region through new job creation while also enhancing the tourism industry, which is a critical part of the country's economy.
During our conversation, Dimas outlined several initiatives designed to promote innovation in quantum computing, AI and next-generation networking, among others. These include proof of concept labs called competence centers that are hosted in multiple Greek cities, partnerships with academia and private industry and involvement by mobile network operators (MNOs).
Greece boasts three MNOs: Cosmote, Nova and Vodafone. Cosmote is the largest operator in the country; it claims that it will cover 90% of Greece’s population with 5G connectivity by the end of 2023. That's a challenging task given the country's topology, which includes many mountains and islands—a landscape ideally suited for 5G fixed wireless access services. (For more of my thoughts on fixed wireless access, take a look at this recent post.)
I think it is compelling how the Greek government is investing a percentage of its 5G spectrum auction revenue. The resulting Phaistos Fund is a public/private partnershipdesigned to drive innovation through entrepreneurial efforts that have the potential to foster a profitable and sustainable digital technology market in Greece. It’s a model for the rest of the world to follow—especially in the United States, where the ballooning prices paid by MNOs for licensed spectrum are often just returned to government coffers by the FCC.
Greece’s reinvestment also positions the country to pursue innovative 5G and edge-enabled mixed reality (MR) experiences that lean into Greek history and mythology to enhance its tourism industry. Just imagine visiting the Parthenon and interacting with the goddess Athena to learn more about the history of the ancient temple!
The p-NET inaugural event
Recently, I remotely attended an event hosted by p-NET and dedicated to 5G and Metaverse topics. p-NET is one of the competence centers I mentioned previously and was a logical host since 5G connectivity and Metaverse investigations are central to its mission. In its first year, the event’s session tracks included innovative 5G use cases, 6G investigations and how MR and the Metaverse are coming together to provide disruptive capabilities within consumer and enterprise applications. Featured speakers included representatives from the Greek National Opera and the Hellenic Foundation, with more than thirty conversations centered on applications for museums, music, archeology, architecture and more.
My favorites were the use of MR to facilitate opera auditions involving artists and directors from around the world, and the use of ChatGPT to bring Athena and Socrates to life through conversational AI. Following the event, I spoke with Marios Nicolaou, the business development director for p-NET, who was also one of the co-organizers His take is that Greece has a unique opportunity to capitalize on its 5G and Metaverse investments, given the country’s unique historical and archaeological footprint, flourishing creative and performing arts sector and the ability for its robust tourism industry to directly benefit. I wholeheartedly agree.
I am impressed with Greece's investment in 5G, Metaverse and adjacent technology platforms that have the potential to accelerate the country's digital transformation while doing the same for its economic growth. It is a comprehensive set of proactive initiatives that could pay huge dividends now and into the future. 5G can serve as the connective tissue for it all, given the technology’s dramatic improvements in high throughput, lower latency and massive device support. The p-NET 5G and Metaverse event held in early April did a lot to raise visibility for Greece as a center of tech innovation, and I look forward to seeing what’s in store for the country and its citizens.