In a move that is sure to anger cable companies, the government is set to cut off the taps of hundreds of thousands of Israeli households that depend on satellite TV for their basic cable service, in an effort to address a spike in cut-off rates.
The cut-offs are expected to occur on the first Friday in April and will be distributed through the Internet in waves of one to two gigabytes each.
In addition to affecting those who rely on satellite for their cable service or are in areas that rely on cable for their Internet access, the service disruption could also be a blow to Tel Aviv’s nascent cable industry, which is struggling to catch up with competitors like Comcast, which has announced it is cutting off services in an attempt to save money.
“If you are the owner of a cable TV, you’re going to lose it,” said Micky Rosenfeld, president of Tel Aviv-based cable TV operator Zimbal.
“It’s going to affect your whole company.”
Rosenfeld and other industry officials argue that cutting off the supply of satellite TV will have little impact on the current population of around 30 million, and that it is already difficult to get reliable internet access in Tel Aviv and the surrounding region.
In an article published on Thursday in The Wall Street Journal, Rosenfeld wrote that the cuts will not have any effect on Tel Aviv as it will still be able to use satellite as a way of accessing the Internet.
“The effect will be limited,” he wrote.
“We are not talking about a change of address, we are talking about the discontinuation of the cable Internet,” he said.
Tel Aviv is the country’s commercial hub for Internet access and has a long history of offering broadband internet service to residents.
The city has an average internet speed of 1 megabit per second, according to a recent study by Israel Telecommunication Authority, and it has an internet access rate of 80 percent.
The country has about a quarter of the world’s population, but the number of people accessing the internet has increased steadily in recent years.
Netanyahu has vowed to crack down on internet piracy in an aggressive effort to combat what he called “a new threat to our national security.”
In December, the country announced plans to launch a nationwide crackdown on online piracy and counterfeiting.