Israeli mobile network operators Cellcom and Partner Communications have reportedly called on Moshe Kahlon, the minister of communications, to reconsider whether they will be allowed to take part in the tender for the setting up of Israel Electric Corporation’s (IEC’s) fibre-optic network venture. According to Globes Online, the government has so far restricted telecommunication carriers from taking part in the tender, but the minister does have the power to open bidding to such companies if no outside party were to make an offer.
IEC obtained a permit in February 2010 allowing it to conduct trials of telecoms services over its fibre-optic network, with a pilot scheme in Kiryat Shmona that followed including around 150 households. Subsequently, last month the power company sent the Ministry of Communications (MoC) a list of conditions it wanted to be included in the licence for its telecoms infrastructure venture, which reportedly included elements such as the pace of deployment and the ability to define the conditions for connecting large business customers; the government has already decided that IEC will not be permitted to sell services directly to the public, but will instead sell only to other telcos.
Both Cellcom and Partner are pressing for IEC’s entry to the telecoms sector to come sooner rather than later, arguably as it will provide a third alternative to the networks of incumbent Bezeq and cableco HOT Telecommunication Systems. Standing in the way of their potential involvement in the project however, it has been reported that a number of executives from both domestic and foreign companies have met with IEC CEO Amos Lasker for information regarding investment figures and how to participate in the tender; those mentioned by Globes as having been in talks include Canadian businessman Nader Ghermezian and executives from MedNautilus undersea cable owner, Telecom Italia Sparkle.