Pressed by Motorola, Defense Ministry halts 5G tender process

5G / Photo: Shutterstock, Shutterstock.com

Motorola Solutions seeks to continue as sole mobile telephony supplier to the IDF in a NIS 1.5 billion proposal.

Motorola Solutions versus the Ministry of Defense and the IDF: After the Ministry of Defense decided to publish a request for information (RFI) in advance of a tender for setting up a 5G mobile network for the IDF, Motorola approached the ministry and demanded that the RFI should be withdrawn. It was withdrawn within a short time.

The IDF Teleprocessing Corps had been working intensively for months on the RFI. Motorola, which provides the IDF's 4G network, brought heavy pressure to bear on the IDF to continue with it as a sole supplier. Motorola set out to recruit support for its proposal. It hosted senior Teleprocessing Corps officers at its offices and hired various consultants to use their connections with senior IDF personnel. One of them was Maj. Gen. (res.) Sami Turgeman, who held a meeting on the matter with Deputy Chief of Staff Eyal Zamir.

Motorola offered the IDF a sole supplier contract for NIS 1.5 billion over a long period. The Teleprocessing Corps examined the proposal, but sources inform "Globes" that the clear inclination of some of the professionals was to reject it and to embark on a tender on the basis of preliminary information gathering. This was because of the experience with Motorola in the 4G network, and recognition of the fact that the mobile telephony market, in which Motorola is no longer a leading player, has undergone substantial change with 5G.

In the 1990s, Motorola developed the IDF's first military wireless telephony system, "Mountain Rose". In 2014, the Ministry of Defense signed a sole supplier contract with Motorola for constructing a 4G network. This time, however, the ministry decided, rightly, that the network should be based on a civilian mobile system using the LTE fourth generation standard. Motorola was the integrator for the project and carried out the work on the encryption components. Motorola chose Ericsson to construct the core of the network, and Partner Communications Ltd. (Nasdaq: PTNR; TASE: PTNR) to provide the radio communication medium for the military network. The Ministry of Defense thus allowed a sole supplier to carry out a project based on a civilian standard.

Two decades ago, Motorola was a global leader in mobile telephony, but it has exited the field. It no longer sells mobile solutions to the civilian market, but rather focuses on telecommunications solutions for the enterprise and military markets.

Since the Ministry of Defense has withdrawn the RFI, it's hard to know where it's headed as far as a format for a 5G network is concerned, but among the ministry's middle ranking professionals, though not necessarily at the senior level, there are some calling for outsourcing the project through one of the mobile carriers that are already rolling out 5G networks, and letting the IDF manage the project from afar, on the grounds that the IDF has no advantage in operating a mobile network, especially as it is a matter a highly advanced 5G network. Another option under examination is to give the project to one of the defense companies, which have experience in managing projects with the IDF.

The Ministry of Defense said in response: "In the past few days, the Ministry of Defense published an RFI on mobile telephony, including 5G. Following an approach to the ministry by a company, the publication was withdrawn for the time being in order to examine the company's claims. When the examination is complete, and in accordance with its conclusions, a decision will be made on how to proceed."

The company stated in response: "Motorola Solutions does not comment publicly on matters concerning its customers."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on April 21, 2021

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2021

5G / Photo: Shutterstock, Shutterstock.com
5G / Photo: Shutterstock, Shutterstock.com
Twitter Facebook Linkedin RSS Newsletters גלובס Israel Business Conference 2018