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RealTime IT News

Cable Net Access to Launch in Israel?

Limor Livnat, Israel's minister of communications, last week promised three Israeli cable TV providers that the companies will be able to provide their subscribers with cable Internet service in the very near future.

The promise was given to the companies as a form of compensation for the introduction of satellite broadcasting, specifically DBS's entry to Israel. The cable companies consider the promise to be genuine, but this is not acceptable to DBS, which protested the move by returning its franchise license to the Ministry of Communications.

It is still unclear how this argument will be resolved. However the very nature of the promise brings closer the introduction of Internet via cable in Israel.

Three Israeli cable TV companies, Arutzei Zahav, Tevel and MATAV, provide services to approximately 70 percent of Israeli households, and they are already preparing to provide Internet to their subscribers.

However, analyst Avi Weiss says that even if the minister's promise is kept, the cable companies are not able to provide most of their customers with two-way Internet service at a reasonable bandwidth. Each company must first perform a significant upgrade of its entire system and then switch over to digital.

It is expected that these services will first be offered in areas that already have digital lines, then companies will expand to sections where cable service is available. Some areas may receive one-way Internet service offerings, with the return channel provided by modem and a Bezek telephone line. Still, it is unlikely that subscribers will adopt this solution, according to Weiss.

Next month Israeli communications company Bezek will begin to experiment with ADSL. The battle for the Israeli Internet market will intensify, as predicted, and the competition will be fierce.