Israel plans to allow Palestinian operators to launch 4G

26 Nov 2021

Israeli and Palestinian telecommunications officials held a private meeting on 14 November where the Israelis gave tentative approval to a plan to allow Palestinian mobile operators to launch 4G networks, although a decision is yet to be finalised, participants told The Times of Israel on condition of anonymity. One senior Israeli official told the newspaper: ‘The 4G system will be available for Palestinians as soon as possible … We will soon see a formal agreement signed. Technical teams on the two sides will begin working at the soonest possible opportunity.’ A Palestinian official, however, said that the Israelis had indicated that joint technical discussions would not begin until April 2022, adding: ‘We have asked the Israelis to hold immediate meetings in the interim, because that date is a long way away.’ The same official added that the Israelis had yet to make a concrete offer of how much 4G bandwidth would be made available to the Palestinians, while noting: ‘In any case, after we finish the technical discussions and receive the frequencies for 4G, our companies need six months to a year to import the equipment from abroad and to launch and operate the 4G system.’

The two local cellcos Palcel (Jawwal) and Ooredoo Palestine belatedly switched on their respective 3G networks in the West Bank in January 2018 after long delays in gaining permission from Israel – while in Gaza the pair are still restricted to 2G operations only. Israeli 4G mobile operators operate widely in the West Bank, and although officially not permitted to serve Palestinian Authority zones, their cellular signals reach into most Palestinian areas, hence many Palestinians use Israeli networks.