Palestinian telcos lose $120m to Israeli operators

The Palestinian telecom sector loses $120 million a year to unlicenced services from Israeli telcos

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Palestinian telcos lose $120m to Israeli operators Palestine's telecom sector loses roaming revenues, taxes and licencing fees due to unlicenced Israeli services.
By  Roger Field Published  September 29, 2010

The Palestinian telecom sector is losing about $120 million a year to unlicenced competition from Israeli operators, according to Palestine's ministry of communications and IT.

Israel's mobile operators continue to give full 2G and 3G coverage in the West Bank and Gaza by placing cell towers at the borders of the Palestinian Territories and in settlements, despite lacking the required licences to do so, according to Mashhour Abudaka, Palestine's minister of communication.

The problem is exacerbated by a rule that forbids the Palestinian telcos from operating in ‘area C', the largest area of the West Bank, which means mobile revenue is lost to the Israeli operators in the form of roaming revenues.

"The Palestinian operators are forced to make agreements with the Israeli operators to cover area C, but the Israeli operators do not roam to the Palestinian operators, because they already cover all of the West Bank and Gaza," Abudaka said.

He added that Palestine's two mobile operators, Jawwal and Wataniya Palestine, are also hindered by Israel's unwillingness to release the spectrum they require to operate properly and to launch 3G services.

"The relationship is one-sided, it is colonial, it is exploiting the Palestinian side, we think as a result of this we are losing around $120 million a year. We lose it as taxes and licensing fees, plus the roaming.

"We have been struggling with this since the signing of Oslo accord in 1994. Israel has been flouting all the agreements, which are quite clear cut. If any Israeli operator wants to run services in the Palestinian area it has to get a licence from the Palestinian side," Abudaka added.

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