Palestinians in the West Bank were finally given access to the 3G mobile network this past January after Israel assigned frequencies to broadband providers. Yet the 3G network is outdated, and much like its absence hindered the West Bank economy and dampened basic business and personal entertainment capabilities, the remaining absence of 4G does the same.
There is no understandable security rationale for banning 4G, yet there is an obvious benefit to Israeli telecom companies who can offer services that Palestinian companies cannot. Israel should remove all access restrictions to the 4G network and allow Palestinians in the West Bank the same broadband capabilities enjoyed by Israelis and Israeli companies.
Why the West Bank Had to Fight for Faster Cell Service
As the rest of the world prepares for the fifth generation of mobile communications technology, the West Bank finally has third-generation cell service.
Starting this week, Palestinians in the West Bank can purchase 3G mobile service through one of two domestic providers. At a time when the fourth generation of mobile technology is available in even the most remote parts of the world – from the peak of Mount Everest to the islands of the South China Sea – Israeli restrictions have until this week forced Palestinians to settle for outdated second-generation technology. And their economy reflects it.
Palestinians Finally to Get 3G in West Bank, After Israel Lifts Ban
The belated move to 3G comes a decade after Palestinian operators first sought Israeli permits and at a time when faster 4G is increasingly available in the Middle East.
This keeps Palestinian mobile companies at a continued disadvantage, including in competition with Israeli companies that offer 3G and 4G coverage to Palestinian customers in the West Bank through towers installed in Israeli settlements. The World Bank has criticized this state of affairs because the Israeli firms do not pay license fees or taxes to the Palestinian authorities.