Israeli fixed line incumbent Bezeq has said it will oppose plans by the Ministry of Communications (MoC) to provide cableco HOT Telecommunication Systems with its own internet service provider (ISP) licence, Globes Online reports. Bezeq has said that the proposals should not be carried through without an overall policy change in the broadband market, as it claims that providing an ISP licence to HOT with minimal restrictions is a significant change from the regulator’s existing policy. The complaint by Bezeq follows the announcement at the end of last month that the MoC had approved HOT’s plans to bundle internet service into its existing package of products through its HOT Net unit, which was formed in December 2008. Commenting on the final decision to grant HOT an ISP licence, Eden Bar-Tal, director of the MoC, said: ‘In order to increase competition in this sector and give consumers the best, the Communication Ministry will allow HOT to be an ISP under terms that preserve competition. The proposed format balances between the need to advance competition for the consumers’ benefit and the need to preserve the fairness of this competition.’
As part of the terms of the approval for the licence a hearing process must first be held for all interested parties in the matter, leading to Bezeq’s latest complaint over the move. Last year, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the awarding of HOT’s ISP licence was delayed over issues regarding the wording of its application. Subsequently, following concerns raised by rival ISPs a resolution of the matter was further delayed; in September 2009 there were calls from Bezeq and 012 Smile.Communications that HOT should operate on the same terms as they did, and the following month, amid continued lack of clarity regarding the structural separation of the new unit, the MoC claimed it would postpone issuing HOT’s ISP licence until it allowed Bezeq to offer triple-play services.