Internet service in the occupied West Bank remains among the slowest in the world for frustrated Palestinians despite an agreement signed six months ago with Israel to finally implement 3G technology.
Not having access to 3G isn’t only angering most Palestinians suffering through super-slow connectivity, it’s also devastating businesses.
A recent report by the World Bank found the Palestinian communications sector alone lost more than $1bn over the past three years because of Israel’s restrictions on mobile data.
“I wish I had an internet connection on my mobile phone, especially when I’m on my way to university… It’s a long commute with all the Israeli checkpoints,” student Hiba Awni, 21, told Al Jazeera.
Israel has restricted Palestinian mobile communications sector for years
When Palestinian and Israeli leaders signed the Oslo Peace Accords in the early 1990s, part of the agreement was to allow Palestinians their own, open, mobile networks.
But when 3G was introduced 10 years ago, Israel banned Palestinian providers from offering the service – citing security concerns.
According to World Bank figures, Israeli providers are supplying more than 20 percent of the demand for mobile services among Palestinians. That’s because – unlike Palestinian providers – they’re able to offer 3G service from towers in Jewish-only settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.
It remains unclear when Israel will allow 3G into the occupied territories.
“Once this technology becomes available and we get all the materials and the ability to build the infrastructure needed, then I think it’d be huge to the economic sector of Palestine,” said the World Bank’s Steen Jorgensen.
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