|Telephones, fax, e-mail, GSM and amateur radio.
Once upon a time, Greece had an awful telephone system. It was antiquated, offered nothing except rotary dial and for long distance, the waiting times were counted in terms of days, not minutes.
These days Greece has a very advanced, tone dialing system, offering features only found in places like Finland. And it is the cheapest place to phone in Europe.
On old rotary dial systems, a local call costs just 20 drachmas which is 10 US cents, 14 Canadian cents, 2.5 Belgian franc, 6 pence or 20 Australian cents! Using the modern timed systems, these prices are for every three minutes.
In old rotary dial systems, a call costs just DRA 10 and has no time limit. In newer digital exchanges, calls are charged on a per time basis.
Many phone booths only accept phone cards. These come in 50, 100, 500, 1000 or 10000 unit denominations. They are smart cards with a microprocessor embedded within them. With beautiful pictures printed on them, they have become collector's items. In the summer of 1999, a 100 unit card costs DRA 1450(prices decreased).
The main 'area' codes are:
To dial home from Greece/Ellada, dial 00 followed by your country code:
1 for US/Canada
To send faxes, you would have to ask at your hotel and it will be charged on your room bill. If the hotel is small and doesnt have a fax, then your best bet is to ask any shop or company in your area, assuming your fax is urgent. Prepare to offer an appropriate amount as most places dont know how to charge them.
61 for Australia
44 for the U.K
353 for Ireland
32 for Belgium
However remember this: a one page fax takes about a minute to send anywhere which should be about DRA 1500 for the US/Canada, about DRA 2000 for Australia, about DRA 1200 for UK/Ireland/Belgium.
Electronic mail has also invaded Greece!
Among suppliers, Compuserve has a local access number which offers 9600 bps access, soon to be upgraded to 28.8K bps. You log in with your regular ID and password. It's like using compuserve at home.
The Compuserve number is: 01/ 330 2499. Enter a few CRs and then, you should get the # prompt. Type in C (cr). At the next CENTER prompt, type in CSF (cr) and then usual logon procedure applies with your id and password.
Other e-mail services require you to enter via the public X25 packet network which would occur surcharges. Check before you go and ensure you have all the required information such as the phone number and any codes that you may need to enter.
Most of Greece is on pulse dialling system, therefore set your modem accordingly. Tone dialling is starting up and parts of Athens, Thessaloniki, Igoumenitsa and some other places have gone digital.
GSM also in Greece.
GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) has also taken over Greece and has become a 'must' item. Gone are the days when a theater or a movie would be a quiet place to enjoy a spectacle. As soon as a ring comes in, it is amazing how many people check to see if their phone has gone off!
There are three systems in operation, Telestet, Panafon and OTE. They are both private companies, although the first one started as part of an OTE subsidiary. OTE now runs a new super GSM system in a new frequency range and offers the cheapest service, but coverage is limited.
Panafon is cheaper (about 25% generally), however, mobile calls cost more than most of Western Europe (compare DRA 140/minute in Greece with DRA 30/minute in the UK). Upon arriving, dont forget to select your network (ie Panafon) manually, otherwise you could be stuck on Telestet (if your home GSM service provider used to be a telecommunications monopoly, chances are you will be toggled to Telestet, else you will be hooked on Panafon).
To call local numbers, remember to prefix them as if you were calling locally. To call long distance, press the + sign on the phone and then the rest of the number. The + indicates the international access code.
For Radio amateurs and others
Amateur Radio is a service or hobby which allows people, who have been suitably licensed, to communicate over distances spanning the globe with their own communications equipment using radio waves.
Radio amateurs provide communications in case of disaster, especially when public telecommunications lines are severed. In Elláda/Greece, which is located in an earthquake area, it is useful to have a radio amateur (also known as radio ham, or just ham) nearby.
If you see a house with antennas on the roof that look like huge TV antennas, it is probably a radio amateur, also called a radio ham.
If you have a license from your own country, bring your HT radio and a copy of the license. Greece has many 2 meter repeaters (Athens is on 145.625-, PL:88.5Hz, and 145.775-, PL:88.5Hz) with wide coverage (most repeaters are on top of mountains). If your license is CEPT-type, then just operate prefixing your call with SV/. If it is not, then you should normally get a reciprocal for the duration of your stay.
If you are interested in the hobby, ask the radio ham about it and they will be glad to help you. In addition, if you are hurt and need assistance, radio hams will be happy to help.
For more information on amateur radio, click on yahoo and select amateur radio as search parameter.