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Cyprus Cost of Living #3

April 16, 2010

The phone and internet bill is due once more.

Actually, it feels like there is always a phone & internet bill due; billing is monthly in arrears and is meant to be paid manually, so in the store 30 minutes drive away or at an ATM which is also 30 minutes drive away.  In the previous house our bill came in three parts, in three envelopes so a massive 36 phone bills every year.  Happily we now get a consolidated bill so just a dozen a year.

Our connection is with Cyta who, until fairly recently, pretty much had the market sewn up.  The four month process to get a phone line installed in the house in Aradippou doesn’t bear re-counting, suffice to say that it generated a number of grey hairs all round.  When we moved to the hills we rather expected that we would have to do without a broadband connection.  The bigger village further up the valley has broadband but the lower village is so small we didn’t expect it here.  A discussion with Cyta however confirmed that broadband was available.  Later, whilst talking with one of the engineers it became clear why.

Ahhh, I know your village.  When broadband was first rolled out one of the Ministers had a house there that he used on weekends.  He needed a broadband connection so it was installed there before most other places!

Such is life here.  This time it worked in our favour so we just smiled and said no more.

So, there is broadband but in comparison to the UK it is both slow and expensive.  To have a connection via Cyta we have to have a phone line through them, even though we no longer use a land line.  Mobile, or cell, phone packages are so cheap here that we use those pretty much exclusively.  So we are paying for a phone line that we don’t want or need.

All told the monthly bill comes to a little over 50€ (£45, $65 at the time of writing) for a 1 Meg connection.  600€ per annum seems an awful lot for what is a pretty slow connection.

For a while we’ve been talking about whether there’s a solution and in the last month there’s been talk of a couple of other providers who either offer better packages for similar money or would allow us to drop the land line and save on the cost there.  One isn’t available in our village but another looks like it might be suitable.  Ignoring upfront costs it looks like we could double the connection speed whilst reducing the costs by somewhere between 20-30% per month.  That has to be a saving worth having.

The company are inundated with new applications at the moment so it will make sense to wait for a month or two until things settle down.  Then the battle to extricate ourselves from Cyta, as well as try to reclaim the deposit we were required to leave with them when we first opened our account.  From memory it was £100CYP, so 171€ and this a deposit that is only requested for non-Cypriots.

For an island where internet usage is still relatively rare, less than 20% of the population have computers and less than 15% of households have internet access, it’s not surprising that the market isn’t as developed as elsewhere.  It is an example however of one of those areas where costs are unexpectedly high.

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