Thursday, September 01, 2005

Phone-y Reforms (1997)

The above 1997 ‘toon showed the public (represented by Mr. Shuldig, my alter ego) being beaten up by the privatization of big government corporations. The idea at the time was that the public would suffer in the short run, but benefit in the long run. Exactly what the Netanyahu-instituted and hotly debated 21st century reforms are now promising the Israeli public.

Prior to the July 1997 reform, the national telephone company Bezeq had a monopoly on international telephony traffic and the price of a call to family back home in America or the UK was prohibitive.
In 1996 our upset at Bezeq (Hebrew for lightning) was widespread. Bezeq was the company we loved to hate. A lot of Israelis began to refer to the monopoly as Nezeq, (Hebrew for damage)

There are now 3 international operators in Israel: Golden Lines, Barak and Bezeq International. The price of international calls from Israel has gone from outrageously expensive to quite reasonable (even cheap), although in recent years the price is creeping up.

The Israeli telecommunications industry is now ripe with competition.
Today Bezeq is threatened (challenged?) with competition in the local (land line) phone service market. And Bezeq itself is still about to be privatized, and the implications are still being debated.
I for one can’t wait.

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