Israel considers shutting copper networks in shift to fibre optics

By Steven Scheer

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel is considering closing old copper networks and transferring all communications services to newer fibre optics infrastructure, communications minister Yoaz Hendel said on Tuesday.

His ministry is already looking at shutting down copper networks and wants telecom providers and the public to weigh in and give their opinions by Nov. 24, he said in a statement.

The minister pointed to Singapore as having fully switched to full use of fibre optics, while Australia and New Zealand are in advanced stages of the process.

After years of delays and disputes between Bezeq, Israel’s largest telecoms firm, and the communications ministry, in early 2021 Bezeq began to deploy its fibre network nationwide.

Hendel said that the ministry was now looking into transferring all telecoms services to fibre.

“The old communications infrastructure do not sufficiently answer the ever increasing demands of the public. And they pollute and have poor performance,” he said in a statement, noting the global trend to moving to fibre networks.

Traditional copper networks consume a lot of energy and have high maintenance costs with low bandwidth, he said.

Bezeq said in a regulatory filing in Tel Aviv on Tuesday that it was “reviewing the announcement and intends to submit its response to the ministry.”

Last month, Bezeq said it currently reaches more than 1.36 million households with its fibre network and as of the end of June had 180,000 customers for its fibre service.

It aims for 1.5 million homes to have fibre access by the end of the year and for 2.2 million – 82% of the country – in the coming years.

(Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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