Israel’s Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel says he is considering closing old copper networks and transferring all communications services to newer fibre optic infrastructure.
Hendel says his ministry is already looking at shutting down copper networks and wants telecom providers and the public to comment by 24 November.
According to TeleGeography's CommsUpdate, a ministry consultation paper wants feedback on such areas as the conditions for granting permission to stop selling both retail and wholesale copper-based services in areas where fibre networks have been deployed; the possible impact of copper shutdowns on the wholesale market; and the timeline for notification of copper network closures to subscribers.
This ambition is not unique, as Hendel made clear. The global trend to moving to fibre networks includes Singapore, which has switched to full use of fibre optics, while Australia and New Zealand are in the advanced stages of the process. In any case, as he pointed out, traditional copper networks consume a lot of energy, are polluting and have high maintenance costs with low bandwidth – hardly conducive to continued rollout.
Israel’s fibre network deployment has so far taken longer than hoped. According to Reuters, there were years of delays and disputes between Bezeq, Israel's largest telecoms firm, and the communications ministry before, in early 2021, Bezeq began to deploy its fibre network nationwide.
Last month Bezeq said it currently reaches more than 1.36 million households with its fibre network. The aim is for 1.5 million homes to have fibre access by the end of the year and, eventually, 2.2 million homes, or 82% of the country.