With Elon Musk‘s satellite internet provider company Starlink set to start offering its services in Greece during the second half of 2021, the local market of telecommunications is bracing for impact.
The newcomer is expected to revolutionize the domestic internet market with its proclaimed phenomenally low prices and high speeds, since the country currently ranks among the most expensive countries in Europe for internet provision, and a number of remote areas are even either completely cut-off or plagued by low connection speeds.
Starlink’s internet presales in Greece had already been orbiting in full swing by the time that the company’s satellite constellation famously became visible in the night sky in May.
Athens-based entrepreneur and technology enthusiast Stavros Messinis is one of the first clients to have signed a business client contract with Starlink and is awaiting delivery of the respective equipment by September 2021 at the latest.
The co-founder and community curator of The Cube Athens, Greece’s largest startup cluster, event space, co-working space and maker space, tells Greek Reporter that hopes are high, but Starlink will still be regarded as a technological experiment for awhile.
Greece internet providers responding to Starlink competition
The presale of Starlink contracts for internet provision in Greece started on February 23, 2021, Messinis recalls. The deal that The Cube Athens committed to at that time was for around 90 euros per month — a real bargain price, as it only accounts for a tenth of what the company is paying to its present internet provider.
“At the moment, we have a microwave antenna from an established provider and the cost is rather high, exceeding 1000 euros per month, in order to be able to provide the required internet volume and quality in our co-working space. It’s a tremendous difference in costs”, the entrepreneur notes.
On top of the monthly contract fees, Starlink clients like himself will be charged an extra 500 euro one-off cost for the equipment. That includes a satellite saucer which moves constantly as it follows the movement of the satellites to receive signal.
Messinis has already noticed signs of disruption in the local market of telecommunications, brought on by the emerging competition with Starlink. His company recently received a contract offer from another internet provider at a much lower price than expected.
“It shows that established local providers are noticing the new option reaching the market and adapting their pricing strategy accordingly, in an effort to come closer to the European standards, as we have long been one of the most expensive countries in Europe when it comes to the cost of internet provision,” he explains.
“It’s not so much about differences in the cost of equipment between countries, but more about how telecommunication companies regard their clients and build their profitability on them.”
An unprecedented experiment
Nonetheless, the fact that the Greek market has long sustained these high internet prices certainly means that it can afford them.
Therefore, Messinis points out that the low cost of Starlink internet is only part of the equation that makes the new service attractive, alongside high speeds, better area coverage, and breakthrough technology.
“This investment made by Starlink is something that has never been ventured upon before. And we like experiments and trying new things. We want to be on the edge of developments.
“What remains to be seen is whether having cheaper internet provision available in the market would trigger a different kind of evolution in the country through the use of more internet. And I wonder just how many other people have taken the risk of joining this Starlink experiment”, he says.
For the time being, The Cube Athens will run its new Starlink internet connection as soon as it becomes available but will also have a backup plan in place with a secondary connection by an established provider.
“There is a lot of investment in infrastructure underway in the Attica region, with optic fiber installed by existing internet providers in many more areas than before. This is partly in response to the arrival of satellite internet and it will be interesting to see how these two will affect each other,” Messinis concludes.