Israeli finance minister Moshe Kahlon has reportedly ordered the transfer of ILS75 million (USD19.4 million) to Israel Broadband Company (IBC) with a view to shoring up the company’s fibre-optic network rollout project. According to Globes Online, this second tranche of state funding comes amid suggestions that some of the partners in the venture are growing dissatisfied with progress, with the local news source claiming that Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) in particular is becoming increasingly vocal about its concerns.
As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, IBC is a joint venture between a ViaEuropa-led consortium – which also includes Zisapel Assets, Rapac Communications and Infrastructure, Tamares Knafayim Holdings and BATM Advanced Communications – which holds 60% and IEC, which holds the remaining 40%. While IBC has been offering commercial services since May 2014, albeit on a limited basis, demand in those areas where the infrastructure has been rolled out is said to be very low. Indeed, reports in November 2014 claimed that only a few hundred people had signed up for a service, while it was also rumoured that a significant portion of those trialing the service had actually opted not to continue after a free introductory month.
Keen to quash any rumours of difficulties, however, in responding to the suggestions that the rollout was in trouble IBC was cited as saying: ‘Utter nonsense. Last week, a meeting was held to update the shareholders, which involved a tour of the deployment in Tel Aviv, including on the Azrieli site. During the meeting, there was a detailed presentation of the progress of the rollout and the acceleration of the venture’s activity. It’s a pity that people with ulterior motives are spreading malicious rumours.’