Israel plans ultra-fast national network

Four groups have submitted preliminary bids for a super-fast Internet network aimed at significantly upgrading Israel’s telecoms landscape to allow for high-definition television, 3DTV and other services needing large bandwidth.

The government has given the go-ahead for state-run utility Israel Electric Corp (IEC) to find investors to build the network using fibre optic cables, which can provide Internet speeds of 1 gigabit per second — or as much as 100 times what is available now.

“All four groups we have now are big groups with a lot of experience and knowledge,” Tzvi Harpak, vice president of logistics at IEC and head of the tender committee, told Reuters.

Bidders include Sweden’s Viaeurope; defence electronics firm Elbit Systems; Israeli telecom equipment provider BATM Advanced Communications; and RAPAC Communications and Infrastructure.

The winner, to be announced in May after financing is secured, will hold 51 percent of a new private company that will build and operate the home (FTTH) network, with IEC holding 49 percent. The project is estimated to cost billions of shekels to deploy some 25,000 km of fibre optics — 70 percent of which will be above ground to keep costs down.

Harpak aims for deployment to begin in early 2013 with a target to cover two-thirds of Israel by 2020. IEC already has close to 3,000 km of fibre across the country.

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