If you want go get connected to the internet in Israel, you need to get in touch (and in contract) with two separate companies: the internet infrastructure provider (the one with the actual wires going into your house), and the ISP – the company the provides your connection to the actual internet through those wires.
The infrastructure side has very little competition – you only have 2 choices at the moment (Bezeq and Hot), with a third option (The Electricity Company) on its way. So accordingly, there’s very little competition when it comes to prices (and internet speed).
On the ISP side, however, the situation is a bit better, with several competing companies, and relatively cheap prices (especially if you bother to haggle and negotiate).
The broadband speed in internet is average, when compared to the rest of the world. a 40Mbs (download) connection will cost you around 85 shekels (as a new customer), and a 100Mbs connection is will cost around 20-30 shekels more. However it’s important to note that most Israeli internet connections (at the moment at least) have one major downside: very slow UPLOAD speed, usually less than %10 of the download speeds. That means slow cloud-backup, limited video chats, etc’.
Unfortunately there’s no cure for that at the moment – but the upcoming internet infrastructure company that’s going to be based around the electrical wires, are promising identical 2-way speeds.
Internet Infrastructure Providers in Israel
Your first call should be to the internet infrastructure company. Your 2 options as of this writing are:
- Bezeq’s Website (in Hebrew)
- Bezeq’s Sales Number: 1-800-800-199
- Bezeq’s Customer Service Number: 199
Bezeq is also a landline phone company, and will heavily try to push their landline phone offerings. If you have no need for a landline phone – remember that you DON’T have to get one in order to get an internet connection. By law, they HAVE to offer an internet-only line.
Speed and Reliability: Bezeq’s internet connection is based in most place on the copper wires that were previously used for phone lines. Officially they offer speeds of up to 100Mbs, but as of this writing, 100 is NOT available in some parts of the country, and in those parts you can only get up to 40Mbs. Even if you CAN theoretically get the 100Mbs connection, they only promise a “Minimum” of 50Mbs, and you probably WON’T really get up to 100 in most cases.
Their connections, however, are quite reliable in my experience. Malfunctions are rare, and when they do occur, their technicians usually arrive after a day or two.
Prices: The cheapest prices are for new customers (for one year). You’ll usually get the best deal by ordering the new line through their website (in hebrew). These days, for example, you can get the first month for free if you order through the site.
The prices start (as of August 2014) from 69 shekels for 15Mbs, 85 shekels for 40Mbs, and 110 for 100Mbs. After a year, the prices go up. Don’t forget that on top of these prices, you also have to pay more for the ISP.
If you want a landline phone, you can get a cheaper combined package. If you also want go get your TV channels from YES, you won’t get an official combined package, but they usually work with each other to give you better prices all around, since Bezeq and Yes are sister companies.
- Hot’s website (Partial English version)
- Hot’s Customer Service: 1-801-700-700
Hot is first and foremost a cable TV company, that also offers internet connectivity and landline phones. They will try to push their Triple packages upon you (TV+Internet+Phone), and those package ARE cheaper, but you definitely don’t HAVE to get them if you’re not interested in their other offerings.
Speed and Reliability: Hot are unfortunately infamous for their “problematic” customer service, and for having technical issues with their internet connection’s reliability. They still have a LOT of customers, so I’ll let you be the judge (personally I’ve been with Bezeq for many, many years without major complaints).
They offer speeds up to 200Mbs, all over the country (unlike Bezeq, that at the moment can’t even offer 100Mbs for the entire country). One potential downside is the fact that their cable is shared across your entire building – that means you’re sharing your internet connection with your neighbours, and can theoretically hurt the speed you’re getting.
Prices: As mentioned, Hot’s best deals are the Triple packages. If you just want an internet connection, you can get (as of August 2014) 12Mbs for 89 Shekels, 30Mbs for 109, for 100Mbs for 139, and 200Mbs for 189 shekels.
Internet Service Providers in Israel
Once you get your internet infrastructure, you need to get the actual connection to the outside world via an ISP. There are several companies, and the competition is healthy. It’s also important to notice that by law, the ISP can’t contractually “bind” you to one single company, and can’t charge you a penalty fee for leaving (which WAS the case up until a few years ago), so switching between companies is easy.
- Important Tip: Easy to switch between companies? Not so fast. When you want to leave an ISP, the customer representative’s job is to DRIVE YOU CRAZY until you change your mind. Expect phone calls of up to an hour, with long waiting times, and reps who will spin whatever tale they can to convince you to stay. This can also work in your favor, price-wise – there’s always room for price haggling.
ISP Prices: As of this writing, you can get most of the internet speeds for 20-30 shekels. The “official” prices that some of the companies ask for are higher – tell you them you know you can get a better price, and YOU WILL get a better price. Whatever you do, DON’T agree to pay more than 29.90 shekels, even for 100Mbs. With some of the companies, you’ll get 100 for even less.
The major ISPs are:
– Bezeq International – Bezeq’s subsidiary (not to be confused with Bezeq – these are two SEPARATE companies!), they offer good, reliable speed and service, but their official prices are higher than others. With enough negotiations, you can get down to the average price that most of the companies ask for.
– 012 Mobile – A veteran company (now a subsidiary of Orange), their service is usually good and reliable.
– NetVision 013 – Another veteran company (now a subsidiary of Cellcom), in recent years there have been a lot of complaints in the media in the internet about their billing department.
– HOTnet – Hot’s subsidiary (but, like Bezeq International, this is a separate company!), they kind of broke the market with a single price for ALL the speeds – 20 shekels.
There are several other smaller companies, often with even cheaper prices – TripleC, 018, and Internet Rimon, which offers “Kosher” internet with filtering.