"The time is now. Number portability has gone ahead smoothly, and it is now time to move forward with the introduction of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs). We intend to offer shelf licenses to anyone who wants one," Minister of Communications Ariel Atias said today. He was speaking at the opening session of the "Globes" Marketing and Communications Conference in Tel Aviv. An MVNO is an operator who provides services over an existing cellular network but supplies and prices them independently.
Atias added that he hoped that there would be no need for a special effort to enable MVNOs to enter the market, but hinted that the Ministry of Communications would step in if necessary. "We will give MVNOs a reasonable amount of time to reach an agreement on price and we will intervene only if we have no choice," he said. The reason for the ministry's intervention in the cellular market, said Atias, was because it accounted for more than half of the telecommunications market. "We need to ensure it is competitive," he added.
"There is no single action that is conducive to competition in the long-term," said Atias. The Ministry of Communications has recently been at the forefront of two key moves to lift mobility barriers, of which number portability is the better known of the two. "We're now more than six months into number portability. Nearly 400,000 people have switched company in both the mobile and wireline markets," said Atias.
The other move promoted by the Ministry last year was the reduction of the contract periods for subscribers. "There was no logic in having 36-month contracts, when the shelf life of a handset is, on average, 24 months," said Atias.
As for the cellular communications market, Atias added that the Ministry of Communications had received applications for voice-over-broadband licenses, and that it intended to allow the use of this technology.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 14, 2008
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