A report on Israeli broadband

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EG's correspondent in Israel, Hovav Shacham reports on the experience of signing up for Internet service:
I just signed up for broadband in Israel. There appears to be a legally-enforced firewall between last-mile providers and ISPs. My cable bill includes charges for the connectivity; separately, I have to pay an ISP. There's basically two sources of connectivity -- HOT cable, or Bezeq DSL -- and a dozen or so ISPs who work with both. The cable support person, on the phone, said they're not allowed to recommend an ISP.

From a technical point of view, the setup is bizarre. My cable modem gives me an RFC-1918-unroutable address via DHCP, but I can nly use it to connect to HOT's info about the ISPs. On the relevant web page, at http://welcome.hot.net.il/ , the ISP logos permute on each reload.

To get a useful IP, all the ISPs but one require PPTP or L2TP, with an ISP-supplied dialer for Windows, and in some cases also for Mac or Linux. (The other ISPs don't seem to have a provision for non- Windows machines at all.)

A single ISP, www.galla.net.il, advertises as a selling point that they don't require tunneling or dialers. Interestingly, their prices are about four times higher than the consensus price for service: 160 ILS/month, instead of 40 or so. [4.625 ILS to the dollar--ekr]

Our best guess is that this is simple market segmentation. A non-VPN ISP makes it a lot easier for an ordinary, non-wizardly, user to use multiple computers, which is the kind of thing that businesses (i.e., people willing to pay more money) want to do.

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Perhaps the setup needs to be non-standard because the bits go from right to left, rather than from left to right?

Ahh yes, Hebrendian encoding ;-)

Nothing too strange, I think, but I'm an Israeli who worked like that for years. Though I always worked through DSL, not cable.

The initial separation, between the ISP and the physical connection provider, actually makes some sense (beyond the fact you have to pay twice). The infrastructure is only available by Bezeq (the phone company, with monopoly on phone landlines) for DSL, and the cable companies (who joined up as Hot). All it means is that you can select a different ISP than the company providing the infrastructure. Not a bad thing.

Beyond that, I had experience with several different DSL ISPs, and apart from the fact that they all required PPTP connection, there wasn't anything unusual.

Yes, they are all/most very happy to provide their own special diallers, which allow them to show you their company banner every time you connect, and such. But the dialler isn't required, and you can easily set-up the computer (my experience is with Windows machines) without it. Many of them even have reasonable instructions on their sites.

Not to mention that if you're using an external modem/router, you don't set the computer as anything beyond going out on a TCP/IP network, and put the connection details on the router/modem.

Sure, PPTP may be pointless, but as an end user I do need to somehow provide the details of what ISP to connect to, and my account/username details. So doing it for a PPTP connection isn't that different, or more cumbersome, than about anything else.

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