Palestinian mobile phone network providers Wataniya and Jawwal are expected to launch 3G services in the West Bank by the end of this month, according to Palestinian officials.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said he was “pleased to mark this week’s launch of 3G cellular services,” while U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt tweeted that it was an “important milestone”.
Ammar Aker, CEO of the Palestine Telecommunications Group (Paltel) that operates Jawwal, called the move “a strategic step we have been waiting for for more than 10 years. We hope it has a positive effect on the national communications (infrastructure) and economy”.
Under the terms of the Oslo Accords, Israel maintains control over radio frequencies and mobile networks in the West Bank and until now Palestinian providers have either leased 3G frequencies from Israeli counterparts or made do with 2G services.
Though Israel had previously pointed to security concerns over ceding control of cellular spectrum frequencies, a November 2015 Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Palestinian Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh and Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai approving the move.
[Photo: Michael Coghlan / Flickr]