Israel’s government has given its approval to a plan put forward by an inter-ministerial for the deployment of ‘ultra-fast’ broadband services, local fixed line incumbent Bezeq has confirmed. In a press release regarding the matter, the telco stated that the final recommendations of the inter-ministerial team – proposed in July 2020 and subsequently adopted by the communications minister – have now been approved by the government. The telco noted that the implementation of the key principles of the government decision will, however, require the amendment of the Telecommunications Law.
As per the final recommendations put forward by the inter-ministerial team, the first of the key elements of the regulatory framework is that Bezeq will be permitted to decide for itself in which areas of the country it will roll out full fibre infrastructure. The telco will, however, be required to advise the Ministry of Communications (MoC) of the areas it selects and complete its deployment to 100% of premises in these areas within a five-year period. Meanwhile, HOT Telecommunication Systems will not be required to deploy an ‘ultra-broadband network’ that does not use its existing access network. Likewise, there will be no change in HOT’s existing universal deployment obligation for services provided based on its HFC infrastructure. That being said, should the cableco choose to provide ‘advanced services’ on its HFC network, it will be possible to consider changes in the existing deployment obligation.
Furthermore, the new policy will look to foster the deployment of ‘ultra-broadband’ infrastructure – defined by the MoC as either being a fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) type service or an alternative wired technology offering minimum 1Gbps/200Mbps (down/uplink) speeds – in those areas where Bezeq opts not to deploy infrastructure (i.e. ‘Incentive Areas’). To do so, a new universal service fund (USF) will be established to provide financial incentives for network deployments in these locations, with this to allocate money through competitive procedures, with tender winners to be determined on the basis of the lowest offer for deployment per household. This USF will be financed through contributions from eligible licence holders, which will be required to pay in 0.5% of their annual revenues into the fund. The first allocation of funds by the USF are expected to take place in 2021.