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PA, Israel sign agreement to allow 3G mobile service in Palestine

Nov. 19, 2015 1:17 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 19, 2015 8:11 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israel and the Palestinian Authority on Thursday signed an agreement to enable long-awaited 3G mobile access in the occupied Palestinian territory.

PA Civil Affairs Minister, Hussein al-Sheikh, and Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Yoav Mordechai, signed the agreement together to agree on providing Palestinian telecommunications companies with permission to enable 3G coverage, long banned by Israel.

Exact details of the agreement were not immediately clear.

COGAT announced that the "memorandum of understanding" was signed after being cleared by the security establishment and the Israeli Ministry of Communications.

A spokesperson told Ma'an that the PA announced that 3G technology will be available in the occupied territory within three months.

The lack of access to 3G mobile technology in the occupied Palestinian territories has long angered Palestinians and provided an added obstacle to economic and technological growth.

Palestinian think tank, Al-Shabaka, said in a recent report on information and communication technology that operators in Palestine lose an estimated $80 to $100 million annually as a result of the lack of 3G.

Israel has so far refused to provide mobile phone operators with additional 2G frequencies, let alone 3G or 4G technology, which was offered to six Israeli companies in January 2015.

Israel has also denied the release of frequencies to allow Palestinian companies to deploy WiMax systems to provide long range wi-fi access, according to Al-Shabaka.

Operators with Israeli companies have been able to offer Palestinian customers better quality services at lower rates by "capitalizing on Israel’s superior force as an occupying power and the captive state of the Palestinian market," Al-Shabaka says, often building 3G towers in illegal Israeli settlements.

At least 20 to 40 percent of the Palestinian telecommunication market is seized by Israeli operators leading to major losses.

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