012.Smile ownership structure likely to stall MVNO entry

28 Jan 2010

The possibility of Israel’s 012 Smile.Communciations’ commencing operations as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) looks as though it could face further delays over existing regulations that state such operators must not have ties to any other telecoms groups. According to Globes Online, 012.Smile, whose operational assets were acquired by Ampal-American Israel Corporation in November 2009, has noted that under current licensing regulations formulated by the Ministry of Communications (MoC) that it may not apply for an MVNO concession as long as Clal Insurance Enterprise Holdings, a subsidiary of IDB Holding Corp, holds a stake in Ampal. Fellow IDB unit Discount Investment Corporation controls both mobile network operator Cellcom and internet service provider (ISP) NetVision.

012.Smile is considered one of the leading candidates to obtain an MVNO licence, although at present it is understood that the operator is examining the MoC’s regulations governing such operations, and while it is thought that the market conditions are ostensibly attractive for the launch of such services, the company is not believed to have completed its review of the matter.

Israel, 012 Smile Telecom, Cellcom