A community group from a rural area of Thessaly was given a European Broadband Award earlier in December for its ambitious work in building up a broadband network which connects 15 villages and for hosting interactive seminars to promote digital literacy in the region.
Sarantaporo.gr was one of five organizations out of the hundreds of projects submitted to win the award, which has the aim of promoting EU citizens’ access to high-speed broadband. They received the award at a ceremony in Brussels.
The European Broadband Awards is an annual event where the European Commission recognizes outstanding broadband deployment projects in Europe by highlighting the successful establishment of broadband infrastructures.
It all began in 2010, when a small team of young people coming from the village of Sarantaporo, opposite Mount Olympus in central Greece, set forth to show to their fellow villagers the webpage they had built for their town.
It was only then that they realized that the village itself had no internet access (the core team members are not permanent residents of the area) since the telecommunication companies had little or no financial interest in investing in infrastructure in the area.
That was the impetus for the Sarantaporo.gr core team, in collaboration with the local community, to design and deploy the Sarantaporo.gr Wireless Community Network, which has since expanded to eleven villages in the region.
Funded in part by the European Union as well as private donors, the Network has now become a focal point for telecommunications in the region.
Its lofty aims are to create development opportunities for the local economy, improve the quality of life for local communities, enhance social cohesion, and provide incentives for locals to stay in place, mitigating the migration of young people to urban centers.
In addition, the Network aims to provide equal opportunities for local people toward digital citizenship and to bridge the digital divide in rural areas of the country.