Christmas in Athens and I'm impressed by the growth of free wifi in cafes and restaurants. Even a few months ago it was unusual to find free access, and much of what was available was low-quality and didn't even match the 3G networks for speed. Maybe the economic crises has fuelled competition, but free wifi is now becoming the norm.
Most of the leading cafes here in the southern-Athens seaside resort of Glyfada are now offering no-questions-asked open access to good quality and fast Internet. Although I do have a local 3G data service from Vodafone Greece, I've hardly had the dongle out of my bag since arriving last Thursday. Those cafes not offering free wifi are devoid of the younger generation and, instead, are half-full of older people with their sticky Greek coffees. Meanwhile, youth is hunched over its laptop in the more enlightened venues.
All this is in marked contrast to most other European cities, including London, where public wifi is dominated by subscription services such as The Cloud and BT OpenZone. Here in Greece cafes have understood that free wifi is a marketing tool. The cost is minimal in relation to the goodwill and customer loyalty generated by no-quibble Internet access. Meanwhile, in London we can only dream about this sort of net freedom.