Man with computer 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Thomas Peter)
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz on Sunday signed a permit authorizing the Israel
Electric Corporation (IEC) to engage in communications activity that will allow
it to build a fiber-optic network atop electricity infrastructure.
represents the final stage of government plan to establish a nationwide
fiber-optics network that will allow super-fast Internet download speeds of up to
a gigabit (1,000 megabits) per second and as it moves closer to opening up the
telecommunications infrastructure to competition.
Most Israeli providers
currently offer fast Internet speeds ranging between 5 and 100 megabits per
The permit will only go into effect once Energy and Water
Minister Uzi Landau signs it.
“This is a significant milestone on the
road to building fast Internet infrastructure – among the world’s most advanced
– in Israel,” Steinitz said. “This is an important engine of growth that will
help strengthen the Israeli economy,” he added.
Israel Electric’s network
would compete with incumbent providers Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication
Corp. Ltd. and Hot Telecommunication System Ltd.
“In the eyes of
the government this represents an important step in generating competition in
the fixed-line sector,” Roni Biron, chief analyst at UBS Securities Israel Ltd.,
said Sunday by phone. “It is a mid- to long-term risk to Bezeq, but execution of
the project and its business model remain to be seen.”
A private company
will build the NIS 5 billion network in collaboration with the IEC and will use
Swedish company ViaEuropa, alongside
communications- equipment companies in Israel and abroad, submitted an offer for
the IEC and Finance Ministry’s tender for private investors.
of the network is scheduled to start at the end of 2013, the ministry said
Sunday.Bloomberg contributed to this report.