While Israel is now rolling out 5G, its Palestinian neighbour is still managing with 3G networks. However, that may soon change after a widely reported closed-door meeting recently held between Israeli and Palestinian telecommunications teams.
The Times of Israel reports that Israel has agreed to permit the rollout of 4G for Palestinians as part of initiatives that the Israeli government says it hopes to advance to improve Palestinian daily life.
But there’s no formal agreement just yet. And Palestinian officials have complained that Israel may not be willing to start joint technical discussions until April. In addition, they are awaiting clarity on how much bandwidth will be made available; a previous Israeli proposal, in 2019, was rejected because it provided only a tiny number of frequencies.
And of course local operators could need six months to a year to buy and import equipment and then roll out 4G – even as Israel is implementing 5G.
In fact the Palestinian rollout of 3G only happened recently – in 2018 – and this took place in the West Bank. There was no rollout in Gaza, where Israel has not allowed 3G equipment to enter, and which still only offers 2G.
The arrival of 4G would provide an economic boost for Palestine and there is an obvious demand for it – as is clear from the fact that many Palestinians use Israeli cellular networks. The signals from these networks often reach deep into Palestinian cities. They’re also cheaper and provide a faster service than local networks.
This, however, hurts the bottom line of Palestinian operators, whose pricing is high – which is reportedly due to Israeli restrictions on cellular frequencies and the placement of towers.