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Communications in Israel

The Communications system in Israel is the most developed in the Middle East, although it is not the biggest. Israel's system consists of Coaxial cables, Optical fibers, and Microwave radio relay.

History

1940s

1950s

1960s

1970s

  • The Voice of Peace (Hebrew: קול השלום - Kol Hashalom) was a radio station that serviced Israel and the Middle East for 20 years. The station signed on the air in May 1973 from the former Dutch cargo vessel MV Peace (formally MV Cito).

1980s

The 1980s brought a revolution to the communication market in Israel:

  • On 1984 Bezeq was established in order to improve efficiency of the Israeli telephone arrangement, then stuck due to governmental bureaucracy. The waiting period for installation of new telephone lines became significantly shorter after this move.
  • In 1986 the Israeli Postal Service was founded.
  • In 1986, Pelephone, the first cellular company in Israel, was established by Motorola and Tadiran.
  • In October 1986, the Israeli Channel 2 started to broadcast experimental broadcasts over a period of lasted seven years.
  • Towards the end of the eighties, certain prosperity arrived in the domain of the pirate cable TV.

1990s

This decade was typified by great developments mainly in the creation of new fields of communication like cellular communications, Internet, commercial television. and multichannel television platform (such as cable television and satellite television).

  • The Second Israeli Broadcasting Authority was established and the first Israeli commercial channel - Channel 2 began to broadcast on the November 4, 1993. And thus the rating era in Israel began. The original agreement was that the broadcasting days of the channel were distributed among three broadcasting companies in order not to have a direct competition between them.
  • The multichannel television platform in Israel began when the cables TV companies were established. Every company had a monopoly in a certain area of the country (according to a franchise given by the office of communication). For the first time, the Israeli public became exposed to tens of foreign channels from other countries around the world (which overtook the place of the Jordanian and Lebanese channels which were the only foreign channels received in Israel until then), and to new local channels on the cables: The children channel, The sports channel, The family channel, and the films channel. The move brought to almost total elimination of the pirated cables broadcasting in the country.
  • The Israeli Pirate radios experienced prosperity which happened in tandem with the establishment of legal regional radio stations, and to the reorganization of the military radio stations in 1993 (the establishment of Galgalatz in tandem with the Israel Army Radio, instead of the former two stations "Army 1" and "Army 2"). In spite of all the changes in the field of radio broadcasting, this medium lost the majority of the listeners ratings during the nineties, and by the end of the decade, the radio was considered to be a communication medium which had few listeners in relatively to the television.
  • Although the majority of homes in Israel still receive daily newspapers till this very day, in this decade a bunch of main newspapers were closed (Hadashot, Al HaMishmar, Davar).
  • In 1994 Cellcom joined the cellular communication market in Israel. At the start, the company experienced different problems with the devices they provided, when their users experienced many disconnections and intermittence during conversations.
  • In 1999 Partner Communications Co. Ltd. joined the cellular communication market in Israel with the brand-name Orange. Partner was the first company which built network foundations in Israel which worked under GSM technologies.
  • In the mid-nineties Internet and emailing became prevalent in Israel. Back then the connection to the internet had to be done by means of Dial-up internet access to the local Internet service providers such as Netvision and Internet Zahav.
  • In 1998 bezeq scezed from being a monopoly in the market of international telephony conversations after the market of international conversations telephony opened to competition, and two additional companies entered the field - Kavi Zahav, and Barak. The activity of Bezeq in this field passed to its sub-company "Bezeq international".

2000s

In the 2000s the main emphasis has been on digitization and the shift to mobile technologies, as the individual remains connected to the world 24/7.

  • In 2000 the Israeli satellite television provider Yes was established. on the time it was established there were still three active cable companies in Israel: Tevel, Matav and Arutzay Zahav. The competition with Yes caused a big loss of members amongst the cable TV companies which urged them to merge. In order to strengthen Yes which was relatively new, the regulator postponed his approval to the merger of the cable companies. In 2003 the cable companies began to act under the brand-name of the Hot. At the start of 2007 the companies completed the merging. In this decade Hot and Yes inserted the use of the digital set-top boxes, and with them it is possible to receive digital broadcasts (improvement in the quality of reception of the television channels), and additionally also enables games channels, video on demand (V.O.D) and nowadays they even supply digital set-top boxes which contain advanced DVR technologies which are capable of pre-recording show (Hot Magic, Yes Max). HOT has put a big emphasis on encouraging production of local Israeli movies, while YES, in contrast, put more emphasis on purchasing foreign TV series and movies. The struggle between the two companies is still its intensification.
  • Under the inspection of the Second Israeli Broadcasting Authority, on the 28 January, 2002 an additional Israeli commercial channel was established - Channel 10. This move started a competition among the commercial channels. Channel 10 purchased for itself hosts and actors from Channel 2 and Channel 1. In spite of these procurement actions, the channel still is considered to be inferior in the amount of its viewers relatively to the other channels.
  • The Israeli radio succeeded to recover from rating problems and opened more regional radio stations.
  • In the field of cellular communications third generation digital networks were created.
  • The hi-speed internet became prevalent in the majority of homes in Israel. Bezeq stopped being a monopoly in the field of the Line communications, when Hot started offering telephony services through the cables infrastructures.
  • Channel 2 won the bid to activate Channel 99 - the Israeli parliament channel.
  • In 2004 three additional companies entered the market of international conversations - Internet Zahav in the prefix of 015, NetVision in the prefix of 017, and Exphone in the prefix of 018, and the competition in this field became stronger. Recently this field extensively consolidated.
  • In middle of the decade all the portable phone numbers in Israel were changed from six to seven digits including a new area code, due to the massive amount of unique cellular phone numbers.
  • In middle of the decade due to the popularity which the hi-speed internet and VoIP Technolegies gained amongst the Israelis, at first Israelis were able to conduct international conversations free of charge or at lower rates through the Internet due to the link between VoIP networks such as Skype and Vonage to the traditional telephony networks in Israel and abroad.
  • In 2005, an additional bid took place in channel 2, in which "Keshet" and "Reshet" were chosen to be the channel's broadcasts to the consequent decade.
  • In March 1, 2006 The Israeli Postal service became a Government-owned corporation called "Israeli Mail LTD." as a pre stage to the opening of the mail market to competition.
  • In December 17, 2007 the Israeli parliament approved new law which enables the Israeli police and other law enforcement bodies to accesses communication data without judicial inspection.

Communication fields in Israel

Press

Israel has three big daily newspapers: Yedioth Ahronoth, Maariv and Haaretz. Additionally there also 2 big Free daily newspapers - "Israeli" and "24 minutes " (which belongs to Yedioth Ahronoth).

Mail

The mail field in Israel treads towards competition. The Mail Authority became the Israeli Postal Mail Service (still in governmental ownership). When gradually they would enable additional companies entering the market of postal deliveries of mail of weight up until half a kilogram, in order that they would compete with the governmental mail company so that hopefully the rates would drop.

Radio

In contrast with the state which exists in the television field, in the radio the Israel Broadcasting Authority is allowed to produce earnings from advertising. The radio section of the Israel Broadcasting Authority is called Kol Yisrael (which lit. means "Voice Of Israel"). Reshet Bet is currently the leading radio station in Israel. Two additional radio stations belong to the Israeli defense forces - Israel Army Radio and Galgalatz. In Addition to the main radio stations which could be received throughout the country, there are also regional radio stations. There is a severe problem in Israel with pirated radio stations.

Landline telephony

Local calls

There are currently six companies in Israel which are in charge of the Landline telephony field: Bezeq, Hot, Smile 012, Globcall, Cellcom and Orange. Bezeq is the oldest of all of them and is reputed to have a monopoly in the field. Hot uses its cables infrastructure in order to provide telephony services. The cables infrastructure is currently not yet spread throughout the entire country and therefore not every house in Israel can me a member of Hot, in comparison with Bezeq which has landline infrastructure in all towns and villages in the country. The strategy of 012, Globcall, Cellcom and Orange is different from the former two in that they did not rush to establish a new physical infrastructure but rather they provide telephone services which are based on the infrastructure of Bezeq and Hot, by means of Internet telephony technologies and they by means of additional technologies.

International calls

There are currently four companies in Israel which are in charge of the international telephony field: Bezeq international (prefix 014), 012 smile, NetVision 013 Barak and Exphone (prefix 018). All the companies offer memberships services which get their customers cheaper rates for international calls. A member which dials abroad needs to add the prefix 00 and not the specific prefix of the company (as it was done in the past, when Bezeq had a monopoly in this field). Because these companies have an extensive infrastructure of links abroad, the majority of them also provide Internet services.

Cellular communication

There are currently four companies in Israel which offer cellular communication service: Pelephone, Cellcom, Partner Communications and Mirs. The services which those companies provide have long ago passed only the bounds of vocal conversations and currently provide also SMS Text messaging, Videoconferencing and Broadband Internet access.

Multichannel television

There are currently two companies in the market of multichannel television. Hot (which provides television services through an underground infrastructure of cables) and Yes (which provides television services through satellite transmissions). The cables company has an advantage over the satellite company due to a permit granted to it from the communication office, which enables it to provide full bidirectional communications (for example the ability to provide Video on demand services).

Commercial television

There are currently only two commercial channels on the Israeli television - Channel 2 and Channel 10. There also exist several niche channels which make their earnings from TV advertisements, such as: Israel Plus, Music 24, and the Israeli shopping channel. Additionally, Channel 1 which belongs to the Israel Broadcasting Authority, can finance itself partially with the help of a few announcements, although most of its budget comes from the payment fees every house in Israel which has a television set pays annually. Channel 10, in contrast with Channel 1 and Channel 2, circulates its broadcasts to the public only by means of cables infrastructure and satellite infrastructure, without broadcasting on regular air waves and thus they have a smaller amount of potential viewers.

Internet

The Internet companies market are divided into two: infrastructure providers and service providers. The infrastructure providers are Bezeq and Hot. The biggest Internet service providers are Bezeq international, NetVision 013 Barak, 012 smile, in addition to 35 smaller companies. The highest speed available nowadays to the domestic Israeli internet user is 10MBit in download and 1024KBit in Upload - which is provided by Hot. The highest avialble speed through ADSL technologies is 8MBit in download and 800KBit in Upload.

Wireless Internet

The future of broadband Wireless Internet will be decided towards two possible directions - one possibility would be the takeover of the Cellular companies' third generation and fourth generation systems and the second possibility would be the other communication companies with their WiMax technologies.

Communication companies in Israel

Data

Telephones - main lines in use: 2.9 million (2005)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 7.8 million (2005)

Telephone system: Most highly developed system in the Middle East although not the largest

domestic: good system of coaxial and fiber-optic cable and microwave radio relay; all systems are digital
international: 3 submarine cables; satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (2 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 23, FM 15, shortwave 2 (1998)

Radios: 3.07 million (1997)

Television provider companies: 1 cable company and 1 satellite (DBS) company (2006)

Television broadcast stations: 24 (plus 31 low-power repeaters), (1997)

Televisions: 1.69 million (1997)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 23 (1999)

People connected to the internet: 2.1 million (2003)

People connected to DSL or Cable internet connection: 1.3 million (2003)

Country codes: IL (Top-level domain), 972 (PSTN)

Telephone prefixes

On December 2, 2007, mobile number portability and local number portability were introduced in Israel.

Wireline telephones

The following area codes exist in Israel:

Mobile telephones

In the mid-2000s, mobile telephone numbers were changed from six to seven digits and prefixes/area codes were consolidated to reflect the need for the increasing quantity of subscribers. Also note Paltel, which provides mobile telephone service in the Palestinian Authority. Its area code/prefix is 059.

References

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