Israeli ISP disconnected from phone company portal

Israel’s free ISP (Internet service provider), Surfree, has informed users they can no longer connect to its service through the Bezeqnet ISP portal, activated by Israel’s monopoly telephone company, Bezeq. The Israeli Telecommunications Corp. because of a financial disagreement between the two companies.

Users will now have to connect via dialup access only, Surfree said.

Bezeq contends that Surfree owes it one million shekels (about US$250,000). The debt has occurred because of a Bezeq billing method, according to Eyal Binyamin, Surfree’s CEO.

The charges were rung up last May when billings for Web dialups and regular calls were divided, said Ziv Barnea, a spokesman for Surfree.

The companies are negotiating the matter, Barnea said, adding that Bezeq’s decision that Surfree users can’t access the site via Bezeq’s ISP portal is an aggressive move aimed at pressuring Surfree. Bezeq has other customers who owe it money, but those cases aren’t publicized, he said.

Competitive fervor also is at play because Surfree is battling with a Bezeq subsidiary as Israel’s third-largest ISP, Barnea said.

Bezeq sees it differently.

“This is complete nonsense,” said Devora Sagi, a Bezeq spokeswoman. “We did not change tariffs. We signed a contract with Surfree, as we sign with any other ISP, and we’re backing up that contract.”