JERUSALEM, July 12 (Reuters) - Bezeq Israel Telecom
said on Sunday it would soon double internet speeds to
200 megabits per second after receiving long-awaited approval
Bezeq, Israel's largest telecoms group, has long sought
permission from the Communications Ministry to allow it to offer
speeds of more than 100 Mbps but the regulator had rejected the
request saying its view that Bezeq would not want to deploy a
fibre optics network.
But the coronavirus outbreak showed that Israel's
infrastructure was not sufficient, with many parents complaining
of network issues when multiple children were learning from home
on Zoom and other video services.
"This reality sharpens the need for a high-quality and
stable Internet infrastructure capable of delivering high
browsing speeds," said Bezeq CEO David Mizrahi.
Bezeq said it has invested tens of millions of shekels the
past two years to upgrade its network to double internet surfing
speeds, while also investing in a fibre network that it said can
reach 1.5 million households.
Its main rival, cable company HOT, offers speeds of up to
500 Mbps while smaller rivals Cellcom and Partner
Communications -- Israel's two largest mobile phone
operators -- are deploying fibre networks with speeds up to 1
gigabit per second.
Bezeq and the telecoms regulator have been at odds for years
over a fibre network, with the regulator demanding Bezeq deploy
in all of Israel, while Bezeq argued it was not financially
viable to do so in some rural areas.
In recent months, the regulator has eased its demand to
around 70%. Smaller rivals could bid for the business, while a
fund using cash raised from the revenues of telecom firms would
support the rollout in places Bezeq does not deploy.
Mizrahi said he hoped the government would complete
regulation to allow it to launch its fibre network.
(Reporting by Steven Scheer, editing by Louise Heavens)