Reforms to Israel’s fixed broadband sector come into force, alongside reduction in fixed voice tariffs

4 Apr 2022

Israel’s Ministry of Communications (MoC) has announced that a reform of the country’s fixed broadband sector which brings an end to the split between infrastructure and internet service provision has come into force, while also confirming the implementation of a reduction in Bezeq’s fixed voice line charge.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in June 2021 the MoC unveiled plans to abolish the separation of ISP and infrastructure services for residential subscribers. Now, the regulator has confirmed that consumers are able to sign up for a unified service comprising both infrastructure and ISP service from a single provider. According to the MoC, this change will help minimise the phenomenon of ‘dormant’ subscriptions, which it estimates results in payments totalling around ILS50 million (USD16 million) being made by customers each year for services they are no longer using.

In a press release, the MoC noted that in advance of the new regulations coming into force it had strengthened wholesale market mechanisms with a view to ensuring that smaller players in the fixed broadband sector would be able to operate ‘effectively, equitably and competitively vis-a-vis the infrastructure owners within the wholesale market’. To that end, the regulator noted that infrastructure owners have signed binding agreements with companies seeking to use the infrastructure, under which compensation arrangements have been agreed for breach of the terms of the agreement.

Meanwhile, the MoC notes that, although all customers that sign up for a new fixed broadband service from 3 April 2022 will be required to take up a unified service, existing subscribers will be permitted to continue with their existing ‘split’ offerings. Looking ahead, the ministry has said that one year from the date of the market reform it will examine the sector and the transition of subscriptions to the unified model, and based on its findings it will consider any potential further steps required.

Alongside the fixed broadband sector reforms, the MoC has also announced a first reduction in the tariff for fixed line incumbent Bezeq’s fixed voice service in some 18 years, in a development it claims will reduce prices for end users by around 40%. With the price reduction to take place in two stages, the first of these – effective immediately – sees the monthly charge for a fixed voice line from incumbent Bezeq reduced to ILS35. Subsequently, from July 2023 the fee will fall again, to ILS24.36 per month, while call rates will also be reduced from that date; per minute charges for calls to fixed and mobile numbers will drop to ILS0.014 and ILS0.074, respectively. According to the MoC’s estimates the price reductions will save the public around ILS400 million in total each year.