Israel’s Ministry of Communications (MoC) has published a consultation regarding its plans to reform the country’s broadband sector by requiring that all broadband services sold from 1 January 2022 are offered as a single service, rather than as two separate elements.
Bezeq, one of the country’s major infrastructure providers, confirmed the development, noting that the key policy steps proposed by the regulator included the revoking of the ‘Internet Services Licensing Policy’, dated December 2000. Further, the watchdog is understood to be planning to amend the licences belonging to Bezeq and HOT Telecommunication Systems, so that by 1 January 2022 (‘the Determining Date’) both providers would be allowed to provide end users with an integrated broadband service that includes the components currently designated as ‘broadband access service’ and ‘ISP service’. Further, from that date they would not be able to offer a standalone infrastructure service to new retail customers. The new measures, however, only apply in the residential sector and not the business broadband segment, it noted.
Meanwhile, with a view to ensuring that Bezeq and HOT do not exploit their structural advantages, it was noted that the adoption of anticompetitive practices on the part of any infrastructure owner will result in a six-month deferral of the Determining Date for that company. Further, if it is determined that if there is a ‘significant increase in the percentage of an infrastructure owner’s customers in an integrated configuration that is not wholesale’ before a to-be-determined date, then again the Determining Date for that infrastructure owner will be deferred by a period of six months.
Other noteworthy elements of the regulatory proposals include: the establishment of arrangements for switching between operators and preventing duplicate charges; and the conducting of an inspection by the MoC regarding the number of customers continuing to be provided with service in a split or semi-integrated configuration two years after the Determining Date.
Comments on the MoC’s proposals have been requested by a deadline of 22 October 2020.