On 23.09.2020, Law 4727/2020 entitled “Digital Governance” (Government Gazette 184/23.09.2020) was entered into force and incorporated (EU) Directive 2016/2102 on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies, (EU) Directive 2018/1972 on establishing the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) and (EU) Directive 2019/1024 on open data and the re-use of public sector information into the Greek legal order.
Among the adopted Directives, EECC is considered one of the main pillars of the EU Single Digital Market, as it introduces a significant revision of the pre-existing package of EU Directives. The purpose of the EECC is to harmonize EU legislation with the current developments in the electronic communications sector by promoting investments in 5G networks and encouraging competition among digital markets.
The new Law repeals the previous Law 4070/2012 and aims to codify the provisions of prior fragmented legislation, so that a single legislative framework for the development of the new digital era can be established.
The Law includes chapters as regards digital governance, open data, electronic documents, and digital public services. A separate chapter (articles 92-98) is dedicated to “the development of 5G digital ecosystem in Greece», where specific provisions stipulate the following:
* The establishment of the Venture Fund (A.K.E.S) “Phaistos Fund”. The fund will be raised by a percentage corresponding to 25% of the State’s capital received through tendering procedures for the granting of rights to use radio frequencies for 5G networks.
* The establishment of the company under the registered name “5G Ventures S.A.” (“Company”). The purpose of the Company is the establishment and the management of the Venture Fund (A.K.E.S.) “Phaistos Fund”.
* The State reserves 3400-3410 MHz radio frequency band for ten (10) years with the purpose of its exclusive use for research, development and innovation purposes in networks, products or services operating on 5G network infrastructures.
The exclusive mission of the “5G Ventures S.A.” is to invest -through the Phaistos Fund- in companies conducting research or developing products and services operating on 5G infrastructures. These companies might be active in multiple industries indicatively in the sectors of transport & logistics, manufacturing, tourism, healthcare, information technologies, media and utilities. As a result, the operation of the Company could contribute to the growth of businesses and especially start-ups active in R&D of related products and services.
Nevertheless, certain challenges arise for the deployment of 5G use deriving from the low level of technology readiness and the absence of a mature digital ecosystem. For instance, companies might face high upfront costs for investments in equipment and network update. Especially for small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) or start-ups, it might be difficult to resource the capital required to meet the technical standards of the 5G infrastructure and acquire the skills needed to operate on 5G networks. Subsequently, these increased costs could discourage businesses from investing into 5G technology and possibly halt the deployment of the 5G use until viable solutions addressing those challenges are found.
Overall, both the initiatives introduced by this Law, namely the establishment of “Phaistos Fund” and the “5G Ventures S.A.” Company can play a key role to the digital transformation of the country thus enhancing the competitiveness of the Greek economy. Finally, the successful deployment of the 5G use in Greece will depend on: the establishment of a solid legislative framework aiming to reinforce the development and expansion of the appropriate digital ecosystem, the promotion of research and innovation, the creation of incentives for investments in 5G infrastructures and the acceleration of the tendering procedures for the use of 5G networks.
The editorial team