The board of Bezeq has approved plans for Pelephone to begin rolling out a ILS1 billion (USD250 million) 3.5G high speed packet access (HSPA) network. Approval comes eight months after the company launched a tender for network equipment; the finalists for the contract have been named as Ericsson and Nokia Siemens Networks with the winner expected to be announced within a few days.
As it stands Pelephone is Israel’s sole CDMA-based operator and its current 3G offering is based on 1xEV-DO technology. Wary that CDMA is not as widespread as GSM across Europe, the cellco announced plans to launch an HSPA network, representing a u-turn in its former CDMA-based services strategy. Pelephone won UMTS spectrum in the 2000MHz band in December 2001, but as it does not currently operate either GSM or W-CDMA-based networks, the HSPA rollout will necessitate a heavy infrastructure investment.