Israel near bottom of fiber-optic league

fiber optics

A Knesset Research Center paper finds Israel is missing out on the economic benefits of high-speed internet.

A new Knesset Research and Information Center paper lists the many economic benefits of high-speed internet infrastructures, including economic growth, higher productivity, and encouraging employment. This last point has special significance in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis.

The paper was prepared at the request of MK Idan Roll ahead of a session this week on Israel's internet infrastructure, as called for by Economics Committee chairman MK Yaakov Margi. The Committee discussed Israel’s communications infrastructure at a meeting attended by Minister of Communications Yoaz Hendel.

The paper also notes that research examining the effects of internet infrastructure, divided into fixed and mobile sub-categories, showed that a 1% increase in fixed infrastructure penetration would lead to a 0.08% increase in GDP, and a 1% increase in mobile infrastructure penetration would lead to a 0.15% increase in GDP. It also states that fixed infrastructures have a greater impact on growth in developed countries, while the impact of mobile infrastructures is greater in developing countries.

The paper reveals Israel is near the bottom of the a table comparing its fiber optic infrastructure penetration rate to that of other countries. In June 2019, the percentage of subscribers in Israel for fiber optics to the premises/home/building, comprised 2% of all broadband network connections, which compares with an average of 26.8% in the OECD countries.

Israel’s subscriber rate in June, 2019, was the third lowest, above Greece (0.2%) and Belgium (1%), while the leading countries are Korea (81.7%), Japan (79%), Lithuania (74.6%) and Sweden (68.9%).

Israel is also at the bottom of the list of countries in terms of mobile network access speed, with a speed of 21.8 megabits per second. Fixed network access speed in Israel is closer to the OECD average, at 99.7 megabits per second, which compares with an OECD average of 102.3 megabits per second.

Roll said, "The coronavirus crisis is an opportunity to invest where, over the past decade, Israeli governments haven’t invested. Everyone talks about productivity and we call ourselves the Startup Nation, but in practice, the State of Israel doesn’t have comprehensive internet deployment - certainly not high-speed internet.

"Deploying fiber optics and a 5G cellular network across the country will help connect the periphery and underprivileged populations to the high-tech industry. Only recently, the Minister of Communications decided to reduce HOT Telecommunication Systems' obligation to deploy fiber optics. This is a step in the wrong direction that delays Israel’s development in this area, and could leave us behind. Even now, Israel ranks very low in measures of internet infrastructure among the OECD countries."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on July 15, 2020

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020

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