Pelephone, the mobile subsidiary of Israeli fixed line incumbent Bezeq, has reportedly inked a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) deal with retailer Rami Levi, according to Reuters. The development comes after Pelephone became the first cellco to sign an agreement with a virtual operator in December 2010, when it agreed to allow a company called Free Telecom to use its network. Under the terms of the latest deal Rami Levi will sell mobile phones and cellular services at its supermarkets from the third quarter of 2011. Commenting on the development Pelephone chief executive Gil Sharon said that his company views MVNO deals as the only way to grow, with the executive noting: ‘Pelephone’s business strategy in the context of MVNOs is ‘co-opetition’, which is a combination of competition with cooperation in infrastructure, with the understanding that’s where the world is going … The MVNO is another way for us to increase profits in a changing marketplace, while maximising the capabilities of Pelephone’s advanced network.’
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, as well as having signed an MVNO deal with Free Telecom and Rami Levi, Pelephone also has an agreement with Telecom 365, which was the first Israeli company to be granted an MVNO licence. However, the would-be virtual operator, a unit of retail group Hamashbir, handed back its concession, instead signing a co-operation agreement with Pelephone, under which the duo will jointly market mobile services from the middle of 2011 using a mobile virtual network retail (MNVR) model; services including airtime and handsets will be offered via an independent brand through the Hamashbir’s expanded retail platform.