The breakthrough of the Internet speed

October 10, 2009

post_iconBezeq, the largest Israeli telco has launched a new fiber optic network – the NGN. Though the event  is not exactly belongs to the mobile world,  I think it may have significant and long lasting effects on the whole Israeli communication market, so it worth to say a few words about it (especially due to the fact I had a chance to visit the public launch event and even shot a a few pics there).

NGN event stage

NGN event stage

During the last year Bezeq has started to deploy its upgraded fiber optic infrastructure branded as NGN (Next Generation Network). The new network enabled the company to start offering new high speed internet connections packages: At first 10 and 15 Mbps, then 30 Mbps and in the near future (according to Bezeq) 50 Mbps. The pricing though still remains a weak point (in my view). One who would like to order a 10 Mbps package will have to pay an average monthly fee of almost ILS 90 (~$25) while a 30 Mbps will cost ILS 400 (~$108). This is still very pricey and the question is dual: first, will  the faster packages press down the price of the lighter packages and secondly, will the price of the fast packages be reduced

Demonstration netbooks

Demonstration netbooks

over the time. The first question has got a partially positive answer by now – for example 2.5 Mbps package price has been reduced; yet it still has a long way down IMHO. The more complete answers to these questions will be seen later when the NGN infrastructure will reach the majority of population (by 2010).

Now to the launching event. It was widely promoted on the national TV and was present on outdoor billboards. The promos promised some kind of ‘happening’ and a demonstration pavilion in the old Tel-Aviv harbor compound. The open-air ‘happening’ featured a stage with various activities for families and performance of local artists. It has clearly demonstrated that Bezeq is interested to penetrate with the service directly to the mass market skipping the stage of tech fans and early adopters.

The demonstration pavilion was a bit disappointing. It featured a few areas. Close to the entrance were placed netbooks which allegedly had to show the superior speed of NGN. In practice there were no installed application which were able to demonstrate it and the netbooks were conquered by children surfing the Facebook.  Another area demonstrated ‘the living room of the future’ showcasing a streaming HD picture of a soccer game. Bezeq staff was absolutely proud of the streamer box and willingly explained how the streamer is connecting wirelessly to the router and transmitting the picture to the TV without any PC.

HD streaming (The living room of the future)

HD streaming (The living room of the future)

Additional compound showed the new services launched by Bezeq which not exactly depend on NGN. Among the services are IP-telephony (which is already operational but can only be connected to a PC but not to IP-phone). The pricing of the service is similar to a regular phone line. Another service is file storage. It’s unclear to me which target is pursued by Bezeq in launching this service. It is similar to many free web storage service but unlike them it costs money. In addition, the file size is limited to 50 MB only. On my question what makes the service unique, Bezeq staff answered that it has a Hebrew user interface and that it is more reliable that regular web freebies.

IP-telephony & storage service demo

IP-telephony & storage service demo

The last mention worth item was a model of the NGN gateway box. It was explained that one such box can serve up to 500 households and this is the final point of the fiber optic. The box connects to the old copper wires which can’t be longer than 70 meters.

I’ve also asked whether Bezeq is planning to provide content for high connection speeds. They said that in the short run they are only going to offer ‘light’ content such as ringtones and there is no intention to become a content provider. In my view though, the key question is will Bezeq receive regulator’s permission to provide IPTV services and what will happen in this case with Bezeq affiliated YES satellite TV company. If IPTV platform will be launched satellite broadcasting will become unnecessary and is likey to be shut down. However this is a matter of too distant feature.

Now, discussing the consequences of this launch and taking into consideration that HOT cable company is about to start similar service in a short time, it’s obvious that mobile carriers will have to upgrade their speed too if they want to continue the trend of the recent years of positioning themselves as leaders of the communication market. This raises the question whether the carriers are ready to invest in LTE and acquire additional frequencies for it.

NGN gateway

NGN gateway

There is no doubt though that the launch of NGN network was critical for Israel as after being a leader in communication field,  in the last few years it has been left behind not only by the futuristic 🙂 countries such as Japan and S. Korea but also by many European countries.

Cellcom launches Cellcom Volume

September 5, 2009


Cellcom will revive Arad festival on Sukkot holiday (Festival of booth) between the 5th- 7th of October,  for teenagers and young adults.

The operator will turn the Arad city to a city of  music, after a few years in which the festival has been shut down. Participants will enjoy live performances and parties.  Estimated project cost – 14 million NIS.

Among artists intended to prefom: Ivri Leader, Aviv Gefen, Yonni Bloch, Assaf Amdursky, Maor Cohen, Shiri Maymon and more…

The festival will be called “Cellcom Volume Arad” like previous Cellcom festivals such as “Cellcom Volume Kineret“.

It seems that Cellcom are ready to invest a lot of money in order to engage youth segment with the brand and to connect the Cellcom brand with other types of media rather than mobile, such as : music and entertainment.

Here’s the TV ad for the new activity (Notice it says Cellcom Media on it). Ireally liked it, it’s really different from other Cellcom TV ads which usually focus on what’s Israeli and targets an emotional focus. This time it’s actually catchy, hip, and has a real message that comes through.


Orange and cellcom launch partnerships- a few updates

June 27, 2009


Orange Partners with ‘Bug’

Orange has announced a partnership with ‘Bug‘, a chain of 50 computer stores across Israel. The partnership will allow Orange (Partner) to operate sales counters iwithin the stores in order to promote the sales of Orange’s  (Partner) broadband/ mobile broadband, netbooks, landlines and additional products. The strategic partnership comes a few months after Partner has waived on operating its points of sales in ‘Superpharm’ durgstore chain, who has been in a long partnership with Orange  which was established almost from Orange’s first day in Israel.

Pelephone has already replaced Orange in operating  ‘Superpharm’s points of sale and it seems that Orange needed to change location in order to change customers preception of it services range. In order to communicate to customers that the service range includes a strong link to internet thease day it was important to sell it alongside with computers. This step further emphsizes that Orange is a quad-player.

 Cellcom Partners with ‘Egged’

Cellcom has partnered with ‘Egged‘ transportation (bus company) and ‘Transpot’, in a project that will see that bus passengers will have the ability to track the driving path and know the approximate estimation of arriving to their final destination.

The information will be displayed to passengers on two screens: one near the entry door and the driver, and the other near the exit door.

Well, this sounds kind of cool! The mobile blog of Israel can’t wait to check that out..

What do you think?

Israeli Communication Map Changes

January 2, 2009

post_iconPartner VOB and ISP launch

Partner Israel (Orange brand) is finally moving from being a mobile phone operator to a full telecoms company with the launch of Internet and land-line telephony

After the “Orange Time” launch a week ago offering  content on-line, Partner is starting today to offer land-line calling through Voice over Broadband (VoB) while also becoming an Internet service provider (ISP).

Partner is the first mobile company joining the multi-play circle, shaking up telcom market which up until now consisted of three ISP’s and three mobile operators dominating the map.

Partner’s brand strategy has always based itself on driving  innovation and reflecting simplicity to customers. In accordance,  at an interview for “Globes“, Israeli business magazine,  Alon Berman VP internet and landline telephony services said: “Our strategy is not to raise a price competition… we are going for value offers”.

Some how I believe him it will work for Partner…

So all of you looking for the cheap alternative and a telecoms price war, don’t be looking forward to it too much, it might not happen after all.

A Few words about Orange Time

When it was first launched a week and a half ago I must admit I was a bit excited that Israel is finally going through a minor technological change attempting to change our limited concept of how communication and content feels and acts;  But unfortunately after the first buzz it seems that the interface Partner chose to use is clumsy and the content on the site is not as updated. I would expect that if a company is to build an Internet content platform, it would invest more in valuable partnerships with content providers to bring the best and most updated content, instead of bringing things everyone can watch on regular TV….

What do you think?