Apple iPad owners can now enter Israel without fearing the device will be confiscated. The tablet PC had previously been banned due to its WiFi capability, according to Israel’s Communications Ministry, being in noncompliance with the European wireless standards that Israel follows.
According to Reuters, the 20 iPads confiscated by Israeli customs have been released to their owners. Previous reports had indicated some 10 iPads seized at Israeli’s borders, to be kept under lock and key until the owners either left the country or mailed them back home.
“Following the completion of intensive technical scrutiny, Israel Minister of Communications Moshe Kakhlon approved the import of [the] iPad to Israel,” the Communications Ministry wrote in a statement reprinted on Reuters on April 25. “Accordingly, the import of a single device per person will be permitted commencing Sunday, April 25.”
European standards dictate that a device’s wireless signal be weaker than is customarily allowed by the Federal Communications Commission in the United States. Previously, Israeli officials claimed that the iPad’s stronger signal would hinder other devices’ wireless capabilities.
“If you operate equipment in a frequency band which is different from the others that operate on that frequency band, then there will be interference,” Nati Schubert, senior deputy director for the Communications Ministry, told the Associated Press April 15. “Without regulation, you would have chaos.”
In between that initial ban and its lifting, however, the Communications Ministry apparently met with Apple and a variety of independent consultants, who collectively decided that the iPad could indeed operate in accordance with Israel’s wireless standards.
Israel’s initial ban had been met with confusion from some quarters. “If they’re paranoid about the iPad, then they should be paranoid about BlackBerrys and the iPhone,” Richard Doherty, an analyst with the Envisioneering Group, told The Wall Street Journal on April 17.
The iPad proved a massive seller following its April 3 release, delivering more than 500,000 units during its first week. During an April 8 news conference at Apple’s Cupertino, Calif., headquarters, CEO Steve Jobs announced that around 600,000 iBooks and 3.5 million applications had been downloaded by iPad owners. The interest in the device, however, has led to pressures on Apple’s sales channel, with preorders for the international version of the iPad delayed due to high demand.
The 3G-enabled iPad will ship by May 7 for customers ordering now from Apple’s Website. Those who ordered the iPad 3G soon after Apple’s initial opening of preorders are on schedule to receive their devices sometime in late April.