The following is an overview of how to set up phone, cell phone, Internet and television service in your new home in Israel.
This article lists some of the larger providers currently in Israel. There are other companies that are available, however, this is beyond the scope of our article.
Domestic Telephone Service
There are two main telecommunications companies in Israel that provide domestic telephone service. When considering the cost of the service, keep in mind that some companies charge a one-time installation fee in addition to a monthly payment. The rates charged when phoning Bezeq customers and cellular phones vary. Voice mail, caller ID, and internet are all available for an additional fee.
- The rates are all in NIS, except for the “Rate to Bezeq” and “Rate to Cellular” columns, which are calculated in Agurot.
- Once you have contacted a phone company, a line should be installed within two to three days.
- For a special fee you can choose your own phone number (available if you use HOT).
- For information about VoIP domestic telephone providers, see below.
- HOT numbers start with 077 instead of a regular area code. This means that if you later move to a different area (for instance from Haifa to Jerusalem), you would be able keep your same phone number.
- When you call a cell phone, you pay a premium rate.
Tashtit: Infrastructure for Your Internet Connection
In order to set up your Internet connection, you need two types of providers: Tashtit (infrastructure) and a Sapak (provider). You must use two different companies for these separate services.
Currently, there are two providers for Tashtit in Israel: Bezek, which is the same company that offers phone services, and HOT, which is primarily a company for cable TV.
Bezek should not be confused with Bezek International, which is a Sapak (Internet Service Provider).
Sapakim: Internet Service Provider (ISP)
Israel is among the most advanced countries in the world when it comes to Internet connectivity. The following is a list of the main Internet service providers. Every Internet service provider offers a number of different packages; ask for the various plans and choose the one that is most suitable for you.
- Internet service providers in particular are negotiable, so don’t hesitate to bargain.
- When the service commitment period is about to end, give your internet provider a call and ask for an additional special price period. Otherwise, you will pay a fixed rate which is above your current rate.
- Some ISPs can also arrange the Tashtit for you — sometimes at a slightly lower price.
- Your internet service provider will provide you with a free e-mail address. However, it is recommended that you use a web-based email account (such as GMail or Yahoo) so that you are free to change your provider at a later date.
Several ISPs offer a filtered internet for a slight premium that limits which sites you can visit.
Israeli public television includes channels 1, 2 & 10.
Cable and Satellite Television
In addition to Israeli television programming, there are cable and satellite providers that offer packages which include a wide variety of international programming. When choosing a cable or satellite provider, keep in mind that you will need to pay a one-time installation fee and a security deposit on your cable box, in addition to the monthly payment. Each additional cable box usually carries an added cost. Some companies offer a one-time payment without subsequent monthly charges.
There are four major cellular phone providers in Israel. The table below lists the different cellular service providers. Each one offers various plans, so make sure to choose the plan that best suits your needs.
- Family plans usually have very low rates (and sometimes free calls to chosen numbers) for calls between members of the same household.
- In general, the commitment on a new personal contract is 18 months (a law was passed that makes it illegal to establish a commitment that is longer than 18 months). However, often the commitment on the phone can be as much as 36 months.
- Most cell phone providers in Israel don’t allow you to pay in full for the actual phone upon activation – they will make you pay for it in payments (Tashlumim).
- When buying a cell phone, have your Teudat Zehut and bank details on you.
- You may pay for a cell phone with a credit card or directly from your bank account.
- Pre-paid phones are available from most providers; but they are very expensive.
- Generally, incoming calls are free of charge; you pay only for outgoing calls.
“Kosher” Cell phones
All of the major cellular phone providers have “kosher” phones available, phones that do not have internet or SMS capabilies. These are generally very inexpensive phones, and you can save the mandatory monthly fee that all providers now have for data access with other phones.
Domestic Voice over IP (VoIP) Phone Lines
Most Internet Service providers offer a VoIP option with an Israeli telephone number. Often, they have very attractive package deals with Internet service. Like HOT, they have their own special area codes, which means if you move outside of the area you can still keep your phone number (for instance, if you move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem).
International Voice over IP (VoIP) Phone Lines.
For most countries, it is possible to purchase an international VoIP phone line. There are many providers available. Some (like Skype) require that your computer be turned on when you make and receive calls, while others (like Vonage) do not require use of a computer.
Some VoIP providers will not sell outside of their designated market (such as Vonage) and therefore, you must pay for them with a credit card from their home country, as well as have a billing address there. Some resellers of international VoIP service in Israel don’t have this restriction. Note: If you purchase a service that you have to bring to Israel, if you call support and say you are in Israel, they may not be very helpful.
If you are using an international VoIP provider who you use for your ISP can make a big difference (even the “Israeli ones”). Therefore we strongly encourage you to ask on the mailing list etc, about which ISP other people who are using VOIP are happy with.
When you try to cancel a service, the provider usually tries to offer you a better deal. Don’t assume it is the best deal that you can get.
If you do cancel service, it is recommended to do so in writing and to send the letter using registered mail. This is helpful in situations where there is legal action on the part of the provider. (Don’t forget to save the receipt from the registered mail.)