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Israel's Barak Enters Internet Access Market

Barak, the telecommunications company that controls 28% of the international telephone call market in Israel, has announced its aggressive entrance into the Internet access market, and has set its sights onhome surfers.

Until now, Barak provided Internet access to businesses on a small scale. Their announcement created waves among Internet suppliers in Israel, primarily because this is the first time that an international communications company, with international communication lines, has entered the home access market.

In addition, Barak announced an aggressive sales campaign which includes two months of free Internet access to all new subscribers and a package of services that includes receiving the first four months' hours free, with no obligation.

"We are unveiling the true revolution in the Israeli Internet market; Barak Online is both the name of the brand and the name of the game. There is no longer a need for Internet providers that have no infrastructure of their own," said Gil Sharon, Barak's vice president of marketing.

"We at Barak want to bring the Internet into every Israeli household, to introduce the Internet as an experience just like TV, and to develop the Internet as a mass entertainment tool, affordable to everyone. It is our objective to develop this market and educate the public, transforming the Internet from a tool for a fortunate few professionals to a tool for the masses, " added Sharon.

"The lowering of Bezek's, Israel's communication company, meter charges, in conjunction with current Internet deals, will move the Israeli Internet market ahead in 1999 and turn the Internet into a mass national consumption item, as the price continues to plunge", said analyst Avi Weiss.

Barak maintains a bandwidth of 45 mbps for international communication and a direct hook up to the US Internet backbone via a rapid optic fiber line to Sprint. Within Israel, POPs were built in different area codes with Cisco equipment, using both analog and ISDN hook ups.

According to Sharon, the company intends to be one of the three leading Internet providers in Israel with hundreds of thousands of subscribers within the first two to three years of operation. According to Weiss, Barak will soon be offering international dialing via the Internet (Voice over IP), a service that is currently unavailable in Israel.



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