US to announce initiative that will bring 4G to Palestinians by 2023

4G access could be a huge first step in the improvement of the Palestinian economy.

 General view of electricity water and cellular phone plans from the fence of the illegal settlement of Lucifer Farm on November Wednesday 29, 2006 (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
General view of electricity water and cellular phone plans from the fence of the illegal settlement of Lucifer Farm on November Wednesday 29, 2006
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

An announcement is soon expected on the launching of a White House initiative to bring 4G connectivity to the West Bank and Gaza by next year, as part of a wider initiative to broaden Palestinian economic opportunities.

The move is a way to “[bolster] the digital economy to improve Palestinian economic growth and opportunities,” said a senior US administration official. He emphasized that such an initiative would not replace the need to further pursue political development.

“It’s not an either/or,” he said. “It does not mean that we’re doing [this initiative] and we therefore think we don’t need to find a way forward on a political horizon, things we’ve talked about before and that the president mentioned right after landing [in Israel]. But yeah, it’s a commitment to really begin the immediate steps [toward bringing 4G to] the West Bank and Gaza. That’s the goal.”

Such a move could potentially boost Palestinians’ economic opportunities by providing them access to high-speed internet, prerequisite for success in today’s business landscape.

A study by the World Bank investigating the effects of advanced communication technologies on economy, employment, households and business found that high-speed Internet access increases the chance of finding a job by 7%-13%. Furthermore, an increase of just 1% in the use of mobile communications infrastructure can increase a country’s GDP by 0.4%.

 INSTALLING 5G telecommunications equipment on a tower in the US.  (credit: GEORGE FREY/REUTERS) INSTALLING 5G telecommunications equipment on a tower in the US. (credit: GEORGE FREY/REUTERS)

Last month, Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel announced an initiative last month to roll out fiber Internet to all of Israel, “from Dimona and the Jordan Valley, to Amirim in the north to the Eilat region in the South.”

Hendel’s statement included a quote that rings true in any locale: “High-speed Internet means rapid growth, opening up employment opportunities and quality of life.”

High-speed Internet means rapid growth, opening up employment opportunities and quality of life”

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel