Israel

Israel

Flag_of_Israel.svgBased on Travel  November 2014

 

Summary:

Find a retailer and grab a SIM for Golan Telecom with Unlimited Plan

Difficulty:

Easy*, there are lots of retailers and the sign up process is painless.

Providers and Networks:

Golan Telecom, Orange, Cellcom, Hot Mobile, Pelephone, and others?

All providers GSM 850/900/1800/1900/2100
World Phone Compatible


Full:

Beaches of Tel Aviv

Beaches of Tel Aviv

Regardless of your religious point of view, there is a lot going on in this tiny little country, both historically and politically.  There is quite a bit of diversity for a country you can drive East-West in 2-3 hours, and North-South in 5-6 hours. Jerusalem is the heart of the history, religion, and (unfortunately) the conflict. Tel Aviv is the city that never sleeps that has a young vibrant vibe and great beaches. There are beautiful mountains in the north, desert in the south, The Dead Sea, The Red Sea, and much more.

The communications network in Israel is quite modern and fast. Thus, most places have free WiFi that you can easily access.  That said, Google Maps works with the national bus company and the network coverage is close to 100%, so having a 3G connection is very handy.  Since 2012 things have opened up telecommunications wise in Israel and it is now quite easy to get connected.  As the rules allow cancellation of your cell phone plan at any time, the most convenient is to get a monthly plan and then cancel when you leave.  The cost will even be proportional to your use.

 

Golden Dome and walls of the old city of Jerusalem

Golden Dome and walls of the old city of Jerusalem

There are many local electronic/cell phone stores throughout Israel, but the two major retailers BUG and Best Mobile are your best bets for company selection. You will have to pay for the SIM and then can load up the plan as required.  All this can happen in the store using your personal information (no need to have an Israeli address).

If you are only in Israel for a short time, there is also the option of renting a phone.  There are a couple retailers in the Ben Gurion Airport you provide this service. You pay a daily rate and return the phone when you fly out.  Although convenient, this doesn’t work for me personally as most of my usage is tied to my personal device, so I didn’t investigate further.  If you would like more info, check out Israel Phone Rentals.

Companies and Coverage:

There are quite a few different providers in Isreal, but I found the major ones to be Golan Telecom, Orange, Cellcom, Hot Mobile, and Pelephone. They each operate GSM networks that the other incumbents can roam on and have coverage basically everywhere.  Like anywhere, the rates vary, but Golan Telecom is recommended for price and ease of use. Head to any of their retailers and grab a SIM.  The SIM price might be a little more expensive (50 NIS, approximately $13 USD) vs their competitors (30NIS, $8 USD) but the plans are cheaper.  This could change between now and the next time the page is updated, so I encourage you to shop around as most of the sites provide an English page or can be easily translated.

Cellcom – Largest and oldest provider with main network, network is 850/2100 MHz bands that coves 87% of the population

Pelephone – Second provider in Israel, network is 850/2100 MHz bands

Orange – The Orange network utilizes GSM (900MHz/1800MHz) and UMTS (900/2100MHz) technology and for 3G services; an HSPA+ network that currently covers over 90% of the country.

Golan – Incumbent that has helped reshape the industry, roams on Cellcom

Hot Mobile – Incumbent that roams on Pelephone

Sunrise from Masada

Sunrise from Masada

Followup:

As I didn’t have this article to rely on, I ended up going with an Orange SIM (30NIS, $8 USD) and 3GB plan (140NIS, $35USD) and I’m quite sure I did not get the best deal.  Regardless as I learned more, I wish I had gone with the Golan Telecom plan, as it is priced better and was recommended by many locals. That said, any of the 5 companies listed will provide fast and stable connection, so you can’t really go wrong, except for your wallet…