After implementing the National Public Administration Network (Syzefxis), the Greek government is now ready to extend this infrastructure to include all 34,000 public actors and to introduce new services. Furthermore, broadband access will be made available for citizens and businesses in rural areas.
The extended network will enable Greek e-government and allow a software development and service industry to develop.
Syzefxis ("coupling") was the first venture to provide large-scale broadband telecommunication services for public actors in Greece. The network aims to interconnect all bodies in the public sector (hospitals, social insurance funds, libraries, etc.), along with public administration and local authorities, for their internal and Internet communications. The primary goal is to eventually provide access to all public services for all citizens and enterprises.
The budget of the project was approximately 75.5 million euro, of which 70 million was earmarked for the technical part of the project and 5.5 million was spent on training in Syzefxis services. The infrastructure and services were made available at no cost to the Greek public sector for the first three years.
The Syzefxis project aimed to develop and update the public sector's telecommunication infrastructure, building a core and access network to satisfy all the communication needs of public agencies through telephony, data (PCs and Internet) and video (tele-conferencing and training).
The project's main objectives were to:
- improve public services by upgrading the telecommunication infrastructure between them with advanced and low-cost telematics;
- provide integrated services to citizens using modern and user-friendly government information and transaction systems.
Telecommunication and telematic services were to be provided to the central buildings of approximately 1,800 public sector bodies throughout Greece.
The Syzefxis project started in 2004 and took two years to implement, followed by three years of operation. In 2010, 4,500 public agencies were connected through the new infrastructure, including public sector organisations, ministries, municipalities, hospitals, social security departments, tax offices and many others. The budget climbed from 75.5 to 130 million euro.
The network provides advanced telematic services and value added services: advanced telephony and fax services, calls to/from fixed and mobile telephones as well as international telephony, Internet access with all related services (e.g. e-mail and a website for each node), tele-conferencing, tele-training and education, remote access services (tele-working), and certification and electronic transaction security services (PKI), etc. The provision of individual prices for telephone calls outside the Syzefxis network (local, long-distance, mobile, and international) follows international practice while telephone calls inside the network are provided free of charge.
To maximize interoperability, the National Public Administration Network — as the technical infrastructure is now called — is built using the open Internet Protocol stack, which is already the standard in all public agencies. Audio/video calls and conferencing are based on H.323.
To facilitate separate infrastructures for different users — providing connectivity and separation on a functional level — the Syzefxis network supports four Virtual Private Networks (VPNs).
The infrastructure itself is implemented using readily-available network technologies. It is not owned by the government but provided as an SLA-based service by the contractors. After three years of operation, the active network components (i.e. the switches) became the property of the government.
Upon its completion in 2007, the network comprised six distribution networks, 80 Points-of-Presence (PoPs), and about 2,000 nodes at 1,800 organisations.
The network is interconnected with several trans-European networks, including s-TESTA (Secure Trans European Services for Telematics between Administrations), OLISnet, and GRNET (Greek Research and Technology Network).
Today, 6,000 public agencies are connected through the National Public Administration Network. Digital certificates have been issued for 50,000 public administration officers in Greece, plus another 2,000 certificates for the server authentication of information systems and applications using the TLS/SSL protocol.
The next phase
In 2011, the Greek Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport & Networks presented a new strategy to extend the Syzefxis I network with:
- rural connectivity:
5,000 residential and municipal departments have no broadband connection, while 600,000 Greek citizens have no Internet access capabilities at all;
under a new contract, 40 percent could reach 50 Mbps within 2 years;
- connecting 68 existing Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs) using fibre:
allowing 20 percent of the current ADSL connections to be replaced by fibre;
this amounts to over 100,000 connected homes and over 350,000 homes passed in proximity, allowing the ISP business to develop, creating thousands of new jobs in 2012 and 2013 in deployment alone, and many more over the following years;
- free Wi-Fi access points in each of the 4,000 municipalities.
The infrastructure would allow all Greek public agents (34,000 parties) to optically connect to the Syzefxis II network. Furthermore, the Syzefxis services would be extended, focussing on video, collaboration, and mobility. Bundling the telecommunication needs could half the current cost of over 320 million euro per annum, while simultaneously providing more value and security.
Project Size and Implementation
This year, the aforementioned plan was formalised in three follow-up projects and set in motion:
- Rural Broadband:
providing broadband access for citizens and businesses, aiming to connect 600,000 inhabitants and 5,000 sites with reliable and affordable 30 and 50 Mbps links,
thereby closing the broadband gap in the most remote and disadvantaged rural areas of Greece, in an effort to overcome the lack of infrastructure and lack of interest in these areas;
this network infrastructure is expected to support medium and long-term penetration targets, bringing high-end services to end-users;
through a Public-Private Partnership (PPP): existing network operators will be supported and facilitated in choosing and implementing their own strategies concerning additional private investments in these territories;
this project is divided into three lots in two stages: a two-year implementation stage worth 161 million euro, covered through EU Funding, to be completed in 2015; and a fifteen-year operational stage, covered through private funding, whereby the government will continue to own the network and its administration may be newly appointed after fifteen years;
- 68 state-owned metropolitan (i.e. municipal) ring networks (MANs) will be integrated with the existing Syzefxis I network and the National School Network, making broadband services over 100/1000 Mbps fibre available to almost 4,000 public entities (1,300 schools and 2,700 agencies);
the project consists of twelve lots to be implemented over two years in four stages;
investment of 7 million euro is funded by the EU;
- Syzefxis II project:
since it became operational in 2006, the original National Public Administration Network has grown to include 6,000 public agencies;
the goal of this project is to deploy more (fibre) connections to include all 34,000 Greek stakeholders, with the most important state agencies operating at 100/1000 Mbps;
building on the metropolitan networks, the infrastructure will be extended to nine distribution networks, carrying at least five VPNs;
investment of 172 million euro to build the infrastructure will be funded by the EU; the three year operational costs of 148 million per annum will be covered by national funding.
The extended infrastructure will provide:
- upgraded and updated services,
a Shared Service Centre (SSC), and an SLA-based service catalogue,
- new value-adding services, emphasizing security/access, video, collaboration, mobility, and telephony & teleconference equipment; and
- maximisation of demand aggregation in telecom services for the Greek public sector.
State of Affairs
Syzefxis II is currently evaluating tenders for its five sub-projects. The contracts for the framework agreement are likely to be signed in January or February 2015. The goal for next year is to implement at least one third of the project's scope.
The contracts to interconnect the MANs were signed last February. The contractors are already giving Gigabit access to Syzefxis I stakeholders and currently preparing to implement connectivity for Syzefxis II.
The contract for the Rural Broadband project will be signed in December. In October, 2015, wholesale broadband access will be available to 30 percent of the Greek "white" and rural areas.
All three projects belong to Information Society SA
Impact, Innovation and Results
The benefits of the Syzefxis II projects will be:
- a government that is interconnected through broadband links, facilitating fixed as well as mobile connections,
- safer electronic services, with increased quality,
- a network facilitating Greek e-government, and
- a 50-percent reduction in the total cost of public telecommunications.
Furthermore, the infrastructure will make Greece an interesting country to invest in for foreign IT companies. It will connect and enable Greek companies that at the time consist of only SMBs. Riding the outsourcing trend, a software development and service industry may be developed. All in all, the extended infrastructure will help bring Greece to the next digital level (in German).