Israel's cellular service providers are discussing a newidea with the National Roads Company (NRC): permission to build antennas along highways.
This would apparently allow the companies to circumvent planning restrictions.
One of the companies is leading the talks, but if the talks are successful, all would benefit.
Under the plan, the transponders would be placed along hundreds of kilometers of intercity highways at the base of existing street lights and signposts.
This would appear to circumvent planning regulation 36, which covers cellular antennas, and under which approval for antennas has been given until now.
Under the planning regulations, the local planning authority in whose area the cellular company wishes to place its antennas has to publicize the request and hear objections.
However, the cellular providers have found a way to circumvent the few restrictions that were placed on them. Regulation 36 does not cover intercity highways, which come under the responsibility of the National Roads Company.
Under the law, the NRC is not only responsible for the roads themselves, but also for their shoulders to a distance of a few dozen meters on either side. The NRC does not need planning permission to place buildings or antenna poles in these areas.
In this way, the cellular companies will avoid the bureaucracy of the planning authorities, and the need to hear objections from the public.
The NRC, which is a government company, most of whose income comes from the Transportation Ministry's development budget, will make $1,000-5,000 per site per month.
Sources in the cellular sector said yesterday that the number of antennas in city centers and population centers will not decrease as a result of the placing of antennas along the highways. This would rather address a problem in the periphery, where cellular coverage is weak or non-existent.
The NRC said in response to this report that the company "stringently follows all orders, laws and regulation in all of its areas of operation... In the case of the possibility of using roadside constructions and street lights for the placement of cellular antennas, this is still in its infancy and is the subject of a viability check. In any case, the company will abide by all planning rules and regulations."