Online lessons for Greece’s primary and secondary school students are continuing to experience severe problems with online classes due to hitches in connecting with the Cisco Webex e-learning platform, as the Ministry of Education blames the blackout on the country’s insufficient telecommunication network structure.
Anastasia Gika, Secretary General of Primary and Secondary Education, told SKAI that the problems are related to the networks of all providers and their overload. It is noted that hundreds of thousands of students are simultaneously connecting to the Webex platform in two time zones (in the morning for secondary schools students and in the afternoon for primary school children).
At the start of e-learning last week, there were problems on the Cisco platform but very soon the American company announced that it had fixed them.
According to a Business Daily source with in-depth technical knowledge of telecommunications networks and a long tenure in the industry, the country's telecommunications networks remain at a relatively low level of development, especially in terms of data and are currently being severely tested:
- Lockdown has significantly increased network traffic, as the number of users teleworking or using their connections for entertainment and many more uses (transactions with the state, banks, e-commerce, etc.) has soared.
- Against this background of already increased traffic, the e-learning project has been added, which goes beyond all the limits of the hypothetical use scenarios the telecommunication networks had been based on. "It was expected that such a workload would go beyond the networks’ capacity and there would be difficulties in connecting or disconnecting," said the same source.
Telecom companies could have theoretically upgraded their networks since the first lockdown, in whole or in part. But not only would this have required a lot of effort with high investment costs, it would have also been financially unprofitable for companies, as they would not be able to quickly raise additional revenue based on these investments.
However, all the above problems are directly related to the fact that Greece seriously lags behind in the development of its telecommunications infrastructure, resulting in low fixed network connection speeds, based on international rankings. Thus, efforts for a digital revolution, accelerated by the pandemic, are undermined by the fact that networks are unable to support the transmission of large volumes of data at high speeds.
According to data from speedtest.net, in October Greece was the 94th country in the world in connection speeds through the fixed network, with the download speed being measured at only 31.89 Mbps, even lower than the connection speed through mobile network, which reached 41.16 Mbps in the same month.