Athens mobile telecommunication stores for tourists of Athens.

 
 

There is a way to minimize the cost of mobile phone roaming when you visit Athens. As it is well know, the roaming of phone calls and especially the mobile data roaming is ridiculously expensive for foreign travelers.  The way to circumvent roaming is not expensive, weary or lengthy. At the center of Athens near the Syntagma square there are the shops of the three mobile telecommunications companies of Greece.


The remedy for roaming is having brought from home your older unused second phone and buy a new cheap SIM from Athens. In case your phone accepts two SIMs then the things are much easier. For five euros or sometimes for free all the three mobile companies give a new SIM with a greek telephone number. They also provide packets for mobile internet or international calls that are less than 10 euros. Their websites are in english language with all the informations you might need. The three shops are in a touristic area and the employees have experience with foreign tourists.


At the beginning just buy a SIM card without any contract. Be careful WITHOUT ANY CONTRACT for any period of time. You will have just a greek mobile phone number. I’d like to inform you about the offerings in international calls and mobile internet packets but I’ll avoid it since they change every month. In general 500 Mbyte internet packet costs around 5 to 10 euros and for european calls a 120 minute packet won’t cost more than 10 euros. Just compare the offerings of the three companies.


It is important to study a little the websites of Wind, OTE(comoste), and Vodafone before visiting Athens. The shop’s employees might suggest you something more expensive or might not be informed about the new offers. It is very important to know what you want before visiting the shop. Also don’t forget your passport. All phone numbers in Greece must be identified with the owner. So you’ll be asked for a passport. You have the right to make your new mobile number private  and excluded from the telephone number catalogues for free.


During mornings hours of the weekdays there is a high probability that the shops will be full of customers. Their typical opening hours are Tuesday, Thursday, Friday from 09:00 AM to 09:00 PM and Monday, Wednesday, Saturday from 09:00 AM to 02:30 PM. Check their websites for detailed informations. I suggest you to try the afternoon hours of Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. The customers all less and you will have more time to discuss with employees what packets cover your needs best.


The websites of the three greek mobile telecommunication companies are these.


Vodafone

http://www.vodafone.gr


Wind

http://www.wind.gr


Ote(Cosmote)

http://www.cosmote.gr



The history mobile telephony in Greece.


In Greece there wasn’t analog mobile phone infrastructure like in U.S.A. and U.K.. The first steps of the second generation digital mobile cell phone began in 1992 in Greece. The government of the prime minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis didn’t permit the public telecommunication company O.T.E. to join the mobile phone era. The first private company were the Panafon and Telestet. The first cell phone tower was put on Lycabettus hill in 1993. The coverage was good enough for Athens and the close suburbs. The mobile phones were very expensive and the monthly subscription fees too high. Inevitably the subscribers were a few. In 1998 even if the mobile phone had become quite cheap the users of mobile phones had to sign a contract and pay a high monthly minimum subscription. The monthly cost was affordable for the well-off but ordinary people preferred the public phones on the streets and their home phones. In 1998 the Telestet company (now wind) gave for the first time the opportunity for mobile phones numbers free of contract. That move proved to be revolutionary. Thousand greeks every day bought cheap mobile phones mainly for security reasons. The cost of calls for phones without contract was triple from those with contract but that didn’t matter. The mobile phone users from thousands became millions in a few years.


Some words about the three companies.


Vodafone.


Vodafone is a well know international mobile telecommunication company. It was founded in Greece in 1992 with the name Panafon. In Panafon then participated the Vodafone from U.K., the France Telecom and the greek Intracom electronic company which was under the direction of Petros Kokalis. In 2001 Petros Kokalis and Intracom left the Panafon and the british Vodafone took the control of Panafon. In 2002 Panafon was renamed to Vodafone.


Wind.


Wind was founded at the same time with Panafon in 1992 with the name Telestet. Telestet belonged to the Telecom Italia. Even if Panafon had traditionally better customer support and an appeal to professional users, Telestet brought many services to Greece for the first time.

It was the first that offered mobile phones without contracts in 1998.

The first who offered internet WAP in 2000. The first who offered internet GPRS in 2001. The first who offered MMS messages in 2002. The first who offered interenet 3G UMTS serviced in 2004.

The first who offered extremely cheap calls between mobile phone numbers that belonged to its own network in 2007.

Telestet on one hand offered innovations and cheaper calls earlier than others in Greece, but on the other hand it offered less subsidized mobile phones and worst costumer support than Panafon. That situation gave an advantage to Panafon.

In 2004 Telestet was renamed to Tim and the next year was bought by the british Apax Partners and Texas Pacific Group.

In 2007 Tim was renamed to Wind and was bought by the Weather Investments company.


Cosmote


Comsote belongs to the greek national communication carrier O.T.E. It was founded in 1998 many many years after the first two private mobile telecommunication companies in Greece. Before Cosmote many users blamed the high cost of mobile phone calls to the restricted competition between the two private companies. Cosmote from the beginning offered better prices and better charging policies. For example it stopped the minimum call charge and lowered the minimum monthly fees for people who wish to have a contract. Cosmote helped a lot to make mobile telephony affordable for every greek. However the expectations for a really cheap mobile telephony proved wrong.

What differentiates Cosmote from the other two companies, is the infrastructure it has, from the O.T.E. The national public telecommunication company Ο.Τ.Ε. was founded in 1949 when there wasn’t big issues with the ecologist, archeologist, city architects and the army. From the beginning Cosmote could put its cell tower masts in former O.T.E. structures in areas unapproachable by the other companies. That situation gives Cosmote an enormous advantages in areas with difficult signal coverage.

For tourists who intent to visit the rural Greece I suggest to prefer Cosmote even if it’s a little pricey.

Use the mouse or your finger in order to watch a 360 degrees view OTE (cosmote shop).  View Panorama in larger size.

Use the mouse or your finger in order to watch a 360 degrees view of vodafone shop.  View Panorama in larger size.

Use the mouse or your finger in order to watch a 360 degrees view of Wind shop.  View Panorama in larger size.


OTE (Cosmote shop in syntagma square)

Vodafone in Stadiou street. In front you can see the syntagma square. All three shops are very close together.
 


Wind shop in stadiou street. Very close to Vodafone shop and syntagma square.
 

View the map in larger size. Position of mobile telecommunications stores near Syntagma square.