Israel's Ministry of Communications will allow existing mobile carriers to operate fourth generation (4G) networks using LTE technology even before the tender for 4G frequencies takes place. Pelephone Communications Ltd. will be able to obtain 5 megahertz on loan, while Partner Communications Ltd. (Nasdaq: PTNR; TASE: PTNR) and Cellcom Israel Ltd. (NYSE:CEL; TASE:CEL) will be able to operate their networks on 5 megahertz that they already own.
At a meeting of Ministry of Communications professionals last week, the idea was raised of allowing all the existing carriers to operate 4G networks in a limited format before the tender was held. Partner and Cellcom both submitted requests to the ministry to use frequencies they had themselves freed up for this purpose, and Pelephone, which does not have frequencies of its own available, requested frequencies on loan. The recommendation of the ministry's professional staff to minister Gilad Erdan was to allow all carriers to launch 4G services on an equal basis, in order to avoid a situation in which carriers with frequencies available would gain a marketing advantage over carriers without frequencies, such as Pelephone.
The upshot of the ministry's decision is that Golan Telecom will have a problem, because it is not yet ready for a 4G launch. It is not clear whether Hot Mobile is ready or not, but in any event, Partner is expected to launch its network very soon, since it is already prepared to do so.
Minister of Communications Gilad Erdan said, "Very shortly, the companies will be able to use the advanced technology and prepare themselves for providing advanced fourth generation services to the general public. We shall insist that the investment in the advanced technology infrastructure will be the same in the periphery as in the center of the country, in such a way as to narrow social gaps. The companies will undertake not to charge customers more for use of the more advanced technology."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 13, 2014
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