Telephone and Internet In Israel - Bezeq or Cable Telephone
Copyright 2006 by Morris Rosenthal - - contact info
This year is the first time that I rented an apartment that didn't already
have a telephone installed. My plan was to do without, since the notebook
is wireless and the area is full of cafes, all of which provide free Internet
access. the problem is, I can only drink so much coffee and scotch, and I
get tired of sitting out on the street and working on my lap. The networks
are all unsecured, and while that's fine for doing your banking or checking
e-mail on secure sites that use public key encryption, it doesn't help much
with some of the older nonsecure applications I have to run on a regular
basis. Remember, if you don't see the little lock show up when you log into
a site, it's not secure. Besides all the, the rainy season is coming and
laptops and water don't play all that well together.
I figured since I'm on a business trip, I'd pay through the nose for a cellular modem and have access pretty much everywhere in the country. It's not a bad deal here, I recently saw a company advertising high speed cellular access for 249 IS per month (a little over $50) with the first 2 GB of bandwidth free. The problem is they require a two year contract, and I'm only here another eight weeks at this point. I really should have looked into it at the airport when I arrived, because that's where most tourists rent cellphones for the duration of their stay. However, the cafe life isn't that bad so I figured I'd just get a phone line and use wireless when I need to do research, or access secure sites.
The problem started when I called Bezeq (the national phone company and ex-monopoly) and asked if I could get a temporary line - blee-tee hitchaiyavoot, no obligation. They said "No problem. Bring your passport down to our main store." Since I speak Hebrew whenever possible, but have a lousy ear for it, I misunderstood the description of the location which is right near the Central Bus Station. I thought they said "In the Central Bus Station." As I wandered around the Central Bus station looking for the Bezeq store, I came across a big cellular store, and figured I'd ask about cellular broadband. They couldn't offer that, but in the course of a half hour, talked me into signing up for a phone with H.O.T, the cable and communications consortium trying to push into new fields in the recently deregulated Israeli telephone environment. They had a great sales pitch, 150,000 customers, and were offering no connection fee and 2000 minutes a month free for the first six months. The only cost to me was to be 180 IS (about $45) for an early disconnection penalty.
They were aware that I didn't have a cellphone, so when they scheduled a connection time for me, they added the note that it was important the technician make it on time. I waited through the two hour window, and waited a couple hours extra, but nobody ever came. Called the office, they apologized profusely and scheduled a new time, with the same result. So, I told them to forget it, but I'd lost a week and a half. As the fun ran out of running out to Rechov Azza or down to a Wireless Jerusalem hot spot every time I needed to check e-mail, I decided to look into Bezeq or cellular again. Since Bezeq was closer, I ended up signing up for a regular phone line this morning, cost a little over $50 with tax, and will be subject to toll charges for every call I make. There's no such thing as "unlimited calling" in Israel. Sometimes you can get deals with X free minutes, like cellphone companies in the U.S. do, but generally speaking, every phone call costs money, and the rates are explained in great detail at the beginning of the phone book. Making calls to Internet providers is cheaper than making person to person calls, and calling between 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM with Bezeq costs a couple times more than calling at night, or over the Sabbath. Today is Tuesday, Bezeq arranged to have a guy come out on Sunday morning, so we'll see.
I thought the official receipt was kind of interesting, so I'll include a translation of the text here in English.
"I am pleased to inform you that connection of a telephone has been approved for (my address).
The telephone will be connected at a requested time within six months of payment of this bill. The last date this bill can be paid is 28/12/06.
If the payment is not made in time, your request for a telephone will be cancelled.
The telephone tax will be determined at the time the connection is carried out.
(I paid the charge on the spot, it was 199.10 IS (just under $50) plus 30.86 IS V.A.T. That was the short receipt. Now the long one:-)
The Bezeq company is happy to inform you that your request to connect a phone at (my address) has been approved.
For your information, the temporary telephone number is (02) ###,####. This number is not final and may change until the moment the line is connected. It is recommended that you don't advertise this number on business cards or official stationary.
We noted the number (my landlord's number) should we need to coordinate with you.
A bill for connecting the line has been sent to (my address) which was given us as your mailing address.
For your information: The bill for connecting the line we've sent does not include a telephone.
The last opportunity to pay the bill is 28/12/06.
In the occasion that the payment is not made on time, we will consider ourselves authorized to cancel your order.
For your information: The Bezeq company makes it possible for you to pay the connection charge in three or six payments. If necessary, please visit one of our branches.
Around the line, you can add varied services like voice mail, conference calling and more. The services call waiting and caller I.D. (I think) will be connected with no additional charge.
If it suits the technician in your area, the telephone will be connected on 17/12/2006, Sunday, between the hours 11:00 and 14:00.
The agreements detailed in this letter are in effect at the date it was produced. If the rates are changed, your account with be charged or credited in accordance. The date that sets the charge is the date your telephone line becomes functional.
If you contact us, please have specify your order number, ###
The main Bezeq sales office and store in Jerusalem is located at Rechov HaTzvi 15. If you walk past the bus station on Yafo heading towards Hertzl, you take the first right turn you can into an alley up some stairs, between the bus station and the store Heftziba, and the phone company building is the tower to your left.
Conclusion: Bezeq showed up five days early and connected the line!
I'm including a list of Netvision Access numbers, by area, because I can never find them online when I need them: