Bezeq, Hot bring superfast Internet to the masses

Bezeq will offer 1GB surfing speeds on its new fiber optics network for about NIS 170 per month.

Bezeq workers lay fiber optics lines in Metulla. (photo credit: Courtesy)
Bezeq workers lay fiber optics lines in Metulla.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel’s long-awaited move to high-speed Internet is picking up speed. Bezeq International and HOT Communications are both launching superfast fiber-optic networks this week and plan to connect hundreds of thousands of additional households to broadband technology by the end of the year.
Israel’s adoption of high-speed Internet until now has been very slow, and the country’s fixed-line download speeds rank about 30th in the world. Until now, fiber-optic-based Internet was available mainly to the IDF, schools and business clients, as well as households in a very limited number of locations, a Communications Ministry spokesman said.
The ministry has made increasing deployment by the end of the year a top priority, and the launch of a new fiber-optic network by Bezeq, Israel’s largest communications company, will greatly accelerate adoption, the spokesman said.
Bezeq said Sunday it would offer two packages: 600 MB surfing speed for NIS 109 per month and 1 GB speed for NIS 119 per month. Not included in that price is another NIS 19.90 for the Internet provider, NIS 20 per month for a Bezeq router, if needed, and a one-time cost of NIS 450 for installing the physical connection in the home or office, if none exists.
Bezeq said the installation charge was a promotional rate that may double after June 15, and it can be spread out over 36 months for NIS 12.50 a month, meaning the total cost could be more than NIS 170 per month.
Industry analysts were surprised by the extra charge for installation and speculated that other providers may decide to follow suit.
Bezeq said it expects to be able to offer maximum speeds of 2.5 GB, instead of 1 GB, within several weeks. About a million households will be able to connect to its fiber optics, constituting 40% of all households in Israel, by the end of the year, it said.
Last week, Hot Communications said it would begin sales of packages for its fiber-optic network in the coming days.
Israel now has three broadband Internet providers – Bezeq, Partner and a partnership between Hot, Cellcom and IBC, which is a fiber-optic venture from Israel Electric.
Last month, Hot acquired a portion of IBC in a move arranged by the Communications Ministry to help make the network available to at least 1.7 million Israeli households within five years. Partner is also seeking an investor to help it roll out its network at a faster pace.
“I welcome the announcement by Bezeq and Hot of their intention to start providing fast Internet on their fiber-optic networks,” acting Communications Minister Benny Gantz said. “After a lost decade in the field of infrastructure, the time has come for every citizen everywhere in the country to have high-speed Internet. Accelerating the rate of fiber deployment is an important achievement for the Israeli economy and for all Israeli citizens. The coronavirus period has demonstrated the urgent need to upgrade the infrastructure.”
The launch of Bezeq’s service follows the completion of its new FIBER+ underwater cable that doubles its traffic capacity to 25 terabytes per second. The company said it plans to invest billions of shekels in the project over the coming years at a faster rate than other telecom providers.
Bezeq’s promotional campaign for the new service will feature music star Noa Kirel.