Israel's 1Gbps fiber will show the world what superfast broadband can really do: Cisco CEO

Israel's 1Gbps fiber will show the world what superfast broadband can really do: Cisco CEO

Summary: A superfast fiber to the home network could mean a wave of digitisation - and even more startups - for Israel, says John Chambers.


Israel is to be Cisco's "test case" for how much better a fully connected and fully digital world can be, according to the company's chief executive, John Chambers.

"All around the world countries have the same concerns — providing jobs for their citizens, educating youth, providing health care, and security," Chambers said at a press conference in Jerusalem last week.

"The broadband infrastructure is already having a huge impact on these issues, but there's much more that can be accomplished, and we want Israel to be the example of how a fast broadband infrastructure will change society."

Chambers was in Israel to visit the half dozen companies Cisco has acquired in Israel (including NDS, which still does the bulk of its R&D in Israel), attend a birthday party for Israel's nonagenarian President, Shimon Peres, and to speak at Israel's annual Presidential Conference.

But he was also here to sign the deal for the development of Israel's FTTH (fiber to the home) network, a project that will be led by Sweden's Viaeuropa, using Cisco networking technology throughout.

The network should be completely operational in five to seven years, giving Israelis the opportunity to surf the net with downlinks of 1Gbps, ten times faster than anything the local competition — chiefly the Bezeq phone company and HOT cable service provider — can provide with their FTTN (fiber to the node) network, which delivers a top speed of 100Mbps.

Chambers predicts the network will bring in major changes: healthcare where doctors are connected instantly to providers' and hospitals' databases, with all records kept electronically and updated constantly; an education-anywhere system, where students can learn at home, in class, or elsewhere, communicating with teachers and fellow students over the internet; safer roads and streets (a major issue in road accident-prone Israel), with traffic authorities able to keep better tabs on speeders and unsafe drivers; and a proliferation of "internet of things" technology, with sensors keeping air conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines, front doors, and more connected to systems than can enable better and more efficient allocation of electricity and other resources. In a few years, all of this should be in place, according to Chambers.

When asked why he saw this vision as something to be carried out in Israel — as opposed to places such as South Korea or Japan, which already have extended FTTH penetration — Chambers answered that, unlike most other places, Israel "is truly a start-up nation".

"Israel is second to the US in the sheer number of startups, but because of the population differences, Israel's 'per capita startup' ratio is much higher," he said. 

Israel's governmental leaders — and opposition leaders as well — are all on board, too. "Your government gets it," he said. "They realize we are the cusp of something new and very exciting. It's about country transformation, and if it works here this could be great news for the rest of the world."

With the FTTH network in place, Chambers expects to see an even greater growth in the Israeli startup scene — and that was one reason, he said, the company had decided to start its own $15m venture capital fund for Israeli startups, especially in the cybersecurity area (the first VC fund in Israel to be completely funded by an enterprise without government backing).

In addition, he said, Cisco is setting up its own cybersecurity R&D lab, which will include a simulation laboratory that will support research in a range of areas including advanced threats and device security, and analyse security in the financial, health and industrial sectors. 

DSC_3849 copy
Cisco CEO John Chambers (L) greets Israel's President Shimon Peres at the annual Presidential Conference in Jerusalem (Photo credit: Moshe Milner/ShiloPro)


Topics: Networking, Broadband, Cisco, Fiber

David Shamah

About David Shamah

David Shamah has been writing about Israeli technology news for over a decade, both in print and on the web, and knows the Israeli tech scene and its start-ups inside out.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Google's already doing this in the US

    Thanks for the shameless promotion though.
    • Ya

      In how many cities? Towns? Israel [while not huge] will be covered country-wide.
  • Google in Rural areas?

    Will Google make it so everyone including people in rural areas be able to get the service?
    • Good luck....

      Google wouldn't even bother with rural areas. They probably figure why spend thousands of dollars to hook up a farmer [since they are spread out so much].
    • No Google GB fiber to U.S. rural areas

      - It is NOT IN THE PLANS. In fact, the Google project was really intended to be merely a demonstration project and will most likely not be extended to even most of the U.S.'s major metropolitan areas.
  • There's no way this will include rural areas..

    This is the kind of thing that will start with one city and then move to another etc... With government backing / implementation, it'll probably spread faster there than in the US, but the odds of them running a fiber lines to every little rural house in the country are pretty low...
    • GB fiber possible in Israel's "rural" areas

      Remember - Israel is a VERY small country, thus its relatively "rural" areas will eventually become much more densely populated than they currently are. Consequently even its so-called "rural" areas can indeed be wired for this service.
  • This will be AMAZING

    Kudos to CISCO for doing this - and in Israel no less. This will be a FAR greater undertaking than what Google is currently "testing" in the U.S., with far greater ramifications. I *was* going to mention that the company along with the government of Israel had better start thinking about the need for an incredibly sophisticated cybersecurity infrastructure to go along with it... until I saw it mentioned in the article that CISCO and Israel have already considered it.

    This is SO cool; I hope that it can ultimately be replicated in the U.S.
  • Misleading

    I hate to burst people's bubbles but 1g broadband doesn't mean your experience will be faster. Most typical household even at 25 mbps is more than adaquate for typical web/email/video. The only time that 1g will be of any good is if you're downloading a huge file. Even then you're limited to the server that's sending you the info or other network congestion.
    Wala Bee
    • Inaccurate

      What you said was inaccurate and you didn't "burst" anyone's bubble.
      Excuse me if this isn't the United States but even now Israels Internet isn't as great as yours but I do see an improvement every year.
      The 1Gbps will be a huge step up for us and anyone else, it will improve everything. Especially if the whole country has it! That would mean the whole damn country could communicate at speeds reaching 125 Megabytes per second (1Giga bit\ps)
      This would also mean we could download from peers all around the world up to 1Gbps no problem (torrents) and send (live video, backups,) it will open a door of possibilities at ease.
      • Also

        Also, not to mention Wi-Fi capabilities ;)