Steinitz approves IEC fiber optic venture

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz signed the permit for IEC to engage in telecommunications and provide 1-Gbps Internet access speed.

Minister of Finance Yuval Steinitz today signed the permit for Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) (TASE: ELEC.B22) to engage in telecommunications. The permit, which will come into effect when Minister of Energy and Water Resources Uzi Landau also signs it, is the final step in the government's plan to establish a nationwide fiber optic network with unprecedented access and quality.

On Thursday, a group of investors presented to the tenders committee their plan to deploy the network. They promised that the network would provide 1-Gbps Internet access speed. The NIS 5 billion network will be jointly financed by IEC and use its infrastructure.

A consortium of Sweden's ViaEuropa AB, BATM Advanced Communications Ltd. (LSE: BVC; TASE: BATM), Rapac Communication and Infrastructure Ltd. (TASE: RPAC), the Zisapels' Bynet Data Communications Ltd., and Pujo Zabludowicz's Tamares Telecom Ltd. won last year bid in the joint Ministry of Finance and IEC tender for a private investor in the fiber optic venture. ViaEuropa CEO Jonas Birgersson discussed the venture with IEC and Ministry of Finance officials during a recent visit to Israel.

Deployment of the fiber optic network is scheduled to begin in late 2013, when the ministries finish their work and the tender process is completed.

Steinitz said, "This is an important milestone in the establishment of one of the most advanced Internet infrastructures in Israel. This is an important growth engine which will contribute to the strengthening of the Israeli economy."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 27, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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