Saturday, 10 April 2021

Israel’s 4G coverage goals could cause tensions with Palestine

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Monday 15 February 21

The Israeli government is seeking to expand its 4G coverage to 95%

Reaching national coverage targets in a country as geopolitically complicated as Israel can be no mean feat.   Back in November last year, Israel’s Communications Ministry announced that it was working to increase its national 4G coverage from 75% to 95%.   "The purpose of the move is to expand the overall level of coverage of all cellular networks, and communications companies will be required to expand 4G network deployment in localities…

Reaching national coverage targets in a country as geopolitically complicated as Israel can be no mean feat.
 
Back in November last year, Israel’s Communications Ministry announced that it was working to increase its national 4G coverage from 75% to 95%.
 
"The purpose of the move is to expand the overall level of coverage of all cellular networks, and communications companies will be required to expand 4G network deployment in localities, transport routes, tunnels, and open areas such as hiking trails," said Communications Ministry Director General Liran Avishar Ben Hurin.
 
The move came shortly after the official launch of commercial 5G in Israel in September.
 
Increasing the coverage to this level will involve expanding to all of the nation’s extremities.
 
"Residents of the Arava, the Galilee, the Negev, and the Golan Heights are entitled to the same great cellular reception that residents of Israel's centre have. The peripheries around Israel are national destinations and therefore need advanced infrastructure and full cellular coverage. This is an essential service that contributes to life-saving and quality of life anywhere anytime. The current reality is not acceptable and therefore a fundamental change is needed," said Communication Minister Yoaz Hendel.
 
This declaration, however, has not been well received by the Palestinian government. Today, Palestine’s Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology, Ishaq Sider, said the move was a transgression, aimed at negatively impacting the Palestinian economy and the local telecoms companies.
 
"While the Palestinians are still deprived until today of the 4G and 5G services, the Israeli government continues to impose a fait accompli on the ground and the cyberspace, which we consider a violation and theft of the Palestinian people’s resources," he said, urging relevant international bodies to block the expansion.
 
The Israeli government currently denies Palestinian companies the right to use 4G and 5G services, thus directly harming their competitiveness. Back in October, Israeli telco Bezeq was given a license to operate in Area C of the West Bank, allowing them to serve around 60% of the West Bank’s population, around 420,000 people, a move which will further hamstring the Palestinian operators. 
 
“On the ground, it also covers the main Palestinian cities and villages. At the same time, there’s no fairness in using the frequencies, as Israel offers 4G and 5G services,” said Samer Ali, the foreign relations director at the Palestinian Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministry. “After the decision, the Palestinian market will start using the Israeli service as it’s more advanced and cheaper.”
 
Increasing network coverage to a nationwide level is never simple. In Israel, the task remains more complex than ever. 
 
 
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