Israel’s communications minister Yoaz Hendel has announced measures aimed at improving mobile coverage, including allowing the nation’s mobile network operators (MNOs) to ‘maintain a cell site partnership, which will include sharing the passive network components such as the mast, structure, electricity, and also antenna sharing’. According to the Ministry of Communications (MoC), its new measures will enable MNOs to jointly negotiate with asset owners and lower the leasing costs paid for cell sites. Such sharing, it has been claimed, will significantly increase the efficiency of cellcos’ expenditures on network development and maintenance and improve their ability to invest in expanding coverage and capacity. Further, the MoC has suggested that lowering the leasing costs will help operators compete both in price and in quality of service, ‘without derogating from the coverage obligations applicable to the companies and from the obligation to deliver the service to the subscribers’.
Meanwhile, the MoC has also issued a public hearing on its intention to enable private entrepreneurs to deploy advanced cell sites on existing civilian infrastructures under the same infrastructure leasing model used for MNOs. Such plans come after the regulator recently considered applications from cellcos and technology entrepreneurs to deploy cell sites, based on existing street infrastructure installations such as lighting poles, electricity pylons and poles and bus stops. However, the MoC has stressed that cellcos will be able to use other entities’ cell sites only as additional infrastructure, ‘not replacing cellular infrastructure of a scope specified in the licence’.
Commenting, Minister Hendel said: ‘The decisions we have made today will incentivise the cellular companies to establish additional cell sites which will improve the cellular coverage in areas which are currently substandard, and will enable all of the cellular companies’ subscribers to receive good quality, innovative, advanced cellular service. Besides the coverage obligations the cellular companies have, I intend to enable entrepreneurs to set up advanced cell sites which will be able to serve the cellular companies to increase the capabilities of the 5G network, which will improve the cellular coverage throughout the country and will provide an advanced network for applications which operate using 5G technology.’