Bezeq Israeli Telecommunication Co. Ltd. (TASE: BEZQ) is launching its fiber-optic project and is due to hold a press conference today at which it will officially announce prices for the service and details of the rollout. The company has notified the Internet service providers (ISPs) in accordance with its obligations under the wholesale market rules, and the details were leaked at the weekend.
Bezeq will offer two packages, at speeds of 600 Mbps and 1 Gbps. The first package will cost subscribers NIS 109 monthly (excluding ISP cost), and the larger package will cost NIS 119 monthly. The ISPs' charges will determine the overall cost to the consumer. These will probably be around NIS 20 monthly. Bezeq is obliged to sell Internet split between infrastructure and ISP, until the Ministry of Communications completes the abolition of its divided market policy.
Over the past few months, Bezeq has been deploying a fiber-optic network throughout Israel, and in some places, such as Modi'in and Shoham, rollout is complete.
The most interesting point about Bezeq's launch is that it has decided to position fiber-optic connection as a value-added service, and will charge high installation fees. Bezeq's competitors are not charging fees to connect to their fiber-optic networks, and Bezeq's move could lead to them starting to do so. If they decide to forego installations fees, Bezeq will have to consider how to proceed and to take into account its customers' reaction.
The price of installation will be NIS 900 for an apartment in a multi-occupancy building, payable at NIS 25 per month for 36 months. Bezeq will offer a 50% launch discount. For a private home, the installation price will be NIS 1,800. Here too, there will be a 50% launch discount.
Download and upload speeds will be at the same ratio as on the existing network, on which upload speeds are 10% of download speeds, so that the upload speed will be 60 Mbps in the 600 Mbps package and 100 Mbps in the 1 Gbps package.
HOT Telecommunication Systems Ltd. (TASE: HOT) is also due to launch its fiber-optic service this week, on the IBC network.
"We are deploying at a rate of more than 100,000 households a month, 4-5% of the households in Israel," said Bezeq CEO David Mizrahi this morning. "We currently have 250,000 households connected, and by the end of the year we will reach one million. Bezeq's figures relates to floors of buildings, that is, to households that can be hooked up immediately. In highly advanced countries it took many more years. Bezeq will connect households everywhere in the country, including in Judea and Samaria, in every settlement, both private houses and in high-density housing."
Mizrahi added that Bezeq had taken on workers and contractors to assist in meeting demand for the service, and that there were currently 600,000 Bezeq routers in subscribers' homes that were adapted to fiber-optic technology. He thanked former minister of communications Yoaz Hendel and the ministry's director general Liran Avisar Ben-Horin, and also current Minister of Communications Benny Gantz, for opening the way to Bezeq's entry into the fiber-optic market. "There were attempts by other carriers to halt our launch, by one in particular, including threats of a petition to the High Court of Justice," he said.
"I welcome the announcements by Bezeq and Hot of their intentions to start providing high-speed and high-quality Internet on their fiber-optic networks. After a lost decade in infrastructure, the time has come for high-speed Internet to reach every citizen in everywhere in Israel," Gantz said.
Meanwhile, Partner Communications Ltd. (Nasdaq: PTNR; TASE: PTNR) has reported this morning that it has 150,000 subscribers connected to its fiber-optic network. The company declared that in the light of requests from investors and as part of its transparency policy, from now on it would disclose the number of subscribers every quarter.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 14, 2021
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