Israel revokes WiFi router restrictions; promotes free access "anywhere in Israel"

by Rebekah Heacock Jones

Earlier this month, Israeli Communications Minister Gilad Erdan announced that the government would be revoking restrictions on public WiFi. Historically, those setting up WiFi access points were required to install routers indoors, meaning that access in public places like parks and beaches has been spotty.

A little over a year ago, Israel considered banning WiFi hotspots entirely, citing concerns that the country was close to hitting "peak wifi"—that is, that the spectrum available for WiFi use in Israel (less than half that available in the US and many European countries) was becoming clogged. The ban never materialized, and in September 2013, Tel Aviv launched 80 public hotspots along main shopping streets and at tourist attractions. The program was widely praised, but connections were hampered by the requirement that routers be indoors, meaning outdoor access was often weak.

The new guidelines for routers not only permit outdoor installation; they require municipalities and private companies to allow free access to the service. In a press release, Erdan stated that the goal of the new rules is to "enable Israelis to remain connected and up to date, surfing the Internet for free."