Brought to you as a public service of the Open Spectrum Foundation (Stichting Open Spectrum), Amsterdam - Prague
The Palestinian Territory's radio spectrum is primarily controlled by Israel under the terms of the 1995 "Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip." See "Article 36: Telecommunications" and "Schedule 5 - List of Approved Frequencies" - both in "Annex III: Protocol Concerning Civil Affairs." Note that the bands typically used elsewhere for license exempt radio are not on the "List of Approved Frequencies." Actually, the Palestinians are not granted access to any bands, only to a few specific channels scattered across many bands, and the areas where "their" frequencies can be used are likewise limited, to protect Israeli communications. Nevertheless, people living in the Palestinian Territories tell us that the 2.4 GHz ISM band is heavily used for WiFi, by both private individuals and ISPs, without any licensing or complaints from Israel. WiFi equipment is imported through Israel so this is not clandestine activity.
"طلاق شركة 'جلوبال كوم' في رام الله ," [Global.com launched in Ramallah], Union of Arab ICT Associations, 5 October 2009, in Arabic. Translated excerpts: Global.com advisor Sabri Saydam commended the Palestinian Council of Ministers to discuss the draft law on establishing a Telecommunications Regulatory Commission. Executive Director Camille Qattan said the company would provide cities, villages, camps and all Palestinian territories with high-speed Wi-Fi Internet and VOIP "at any time and place and at competitive prices."
"Holding on tight to the frequencies," by Amira Hass, Ha'artez (Jerusalem), 1 June 2007: "The Communications Ministry claims there is no coordination because we are not speaking to the Hamas government. A convenient excuse, but flawed, because even before the Hamas government arose, Palestinian requests to coordinate additional frequencies went unanswered... Dozens of requests for operating permits for Internet and information technology companies lie on the desk of the deputy Palestinian communications minister, Suleiman Zuhairi, who has been working at the ministry since its establishment in 1994. He cannot approve them because of the lack of frequencies... Although the Israeli Communications Ministry denies any connection with this matter, the non-allocation of frequencies to Palestinians serves the Israeli companies that compete with Jawwal on terms favorable to them. (They do not pay taxes to the PA, although the cellular phones are being used in the Palestinian territories.) The non-allocation of frequencies is another front in the economic war Israel is waging against the Palestinians..."
"Wataniya Palestine Wants its License Fee Back,", Cellular News, 8 June 2009: "Wataniya Palestine, which has an operator license covering the West Bank and Gaza, has demanded its license fee to be refunded due to ongoing delays from the Israeli government in releasing the necessary radio spectrum. The Palestinian Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology (MTIT) awarded a GSM/3G license to Wataniya in 2006, after it agreed to pay JD251 million (US$354 million)... Middle East envoy, and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has also reportedly pressed Israel to release the frequencies, as a way to jumpstart the Palestinian economy and boost support for Mahmoud Abbas and his Western-backed government in the Israeli-occupied West Bank... 'They (Wataniya Palestine) are demanding their money back, plus another $200 million in expenses for installing some equipment, running costs and other things,' Palestinian Communications Minister Mashhour Abu Daqqa told Reuters... Wataniya Palestine is owned and controlled by the Palestine investment fund and Wataniya Telecom of Kuwait. Wataniya Telecom is majority-owned by Qatar's Qtel..."
"Palestinian Authority Presses Israel to Release Radio Spectrum,"Cellular News, 6 July 2009: "The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) is pushing Israel to release long-delayed radio spectrum so that its second mobile network operator can start services. Last month, Wataniya Palestine demanded its license fee back after it had been constantly blocked from launching its network. To settle the issue, Palestinian officials held contacts with Israel to meet under the Joint Economic Committee (JEC)...
إدارة الطيف الترددي, - the Ministry of Telecom and IT's frequency management page, in Arabic. While this page lists the department's many functions, it is not clear how much it is actually working. No detailed regulations are online, for example.
"PA asks radio, TV stations to review license terms," Ma'an News Agency, 26 November 2010: "Unlicensed TV and radio stations must now begin the process of licensing and registration or risk closure, members of a trilateral commission of PA ministries announced Friday. A statement by the committee, composed of officials from the ministries of information, telecommunications, technology and the interior, said it welcomed a decision by the West Bank cabinet to lower fees for stations... Under the new regulations, stations will be prohibited from transmitting until they have received their new permits and undergo checks by officials... Once stations are licensed, the statement said, ministry officials will allocate frequencies matching the equipment of the stations to optimize transmission."
"The regulatory framework of telecommunications in Palestine is relatively new with [a] Telecommunications Law enacted in 1996 [link is to an English translation; see Chapter 4, "Frequency Managing"]. This law was neither reviewed nor approved by the legislature and was enacted in the absence of almost all stakeholders other than the government. MTIT [Ministry of Telecom and Information Technology] is updating this law and other telecom sector laws and forming a separate independent regulatory authority... Internet services are available in all cities and a large proportion of villages through an Israeli service provider..." ---National Profile for the Information Society in Palestine, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (November 2005).
According to their Quarterly Report for July-September 2005, the World Bank's Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility "assisted the government of the West Bank and Gaza in drafting a legal and regulatory framework to complement reform in its telecommunications sector. Among the outputs under the activity are a draft Council of Ministers' decision to establish the new Palestinian Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (PTRA), a draft by-law to govern the authority until the passage of a new telecommunications law, and a training program to build the capacity of the regulator... The training program focused on pricing, licensing, interconnection and cost models. The Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology is deliberating whether the new regulatory framework would comprise a new law, or an amendment to the existing telecommunications law..."
Draft new telecom law by Gilbert Tobin, June 2005, in Arabic and English. Chapter 25(1): "No person shall use any radio frequencies without holding a licence or being exempt from holding a licence issued in accordance with this Chapter..."
"The Mobile Middle East,"eMarketer, 5 November 2004: "Palestine ranks as the most competitive telecom market in the region, but much of it is due to inadequate regulation... Paltel [is] the only licensed telecom provider in Palestine... Paltel's mobile subsidiary Jawwal must compete with four unlicensed Israeli cellular operators for subscribers..."
"Wavion selected by Coolnet to Provide Wi-Fi Coverage in main cities of the Palestinian Territories," Wavion press release, 18 May 2009 (note that both Wavion and Coolnet are Israeli-owned businesses): "Wavion... and Coolnet... today announced the completion of a large scale Wi-Fi deployment based on Wavion WBS-2400 Base Stations in the Palestinian Territories... The WBS-2400 base stations [were] installed in the cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Bethlehem and Hebron and provide internet connectivity for business and residential users with 512KBps and 1MBps... Coolnet is a new Operator in the Palestinian Territories that has been granted Broadband License and VoIP license..."
"Communications Ministry to intensify fight against pirate radio," by Eran Gabay and Zohar Blumenkrantz, Haaretz, 8 June 2007: "The Communications Ministry will intensify its fight against illegal radio stations in response to pressure from the Israel Airports Authority (IAA)and strike threats by its employees... The pirate stations have been interfering with air traffic controllers' radio communications with flights entering and leaving Israel, and thereby threatening airline safety... The ministry intends to begin fining advertisers on pirate stations, in order to undermine the legitimacy of such broadcasters, cut their revenues and possibly even force them to close down. On a visit to the IAA Thursday, Communications Minister Ariel Atias said: 'We have stopped the operations of the pirate radio station in Ramallah in a way that is best not spoken about, and I will not provide any more details, but it is clear to everyone that this is not the way.' ...There are still hundreds of illegal radio stations operating in Israel, even though hundreds are shut down every year. Over the last week, nine illegal stations have been closed, with an emphasis on those broadcasting on the same frequencies as airport control towers..."