Golan Telecom in talks over joining Partner-HOT Mobile joint network venture?

25 Nov 2013

Israeli mobile network operator Golan Telecom is rumoured to be holding discussions related to its possible participation in the shared network that will be rolled out by rivals Partner Communications and HOT Mobile, according to Globes Online.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, earlier this month it was revealed that Partner Communications (MoC) had entered into a network sharing arrangement with HOT Mobile, a wholly owned subsidiary of cableco HOT Telecommunication Systems, under which they will create a 50%-50% joint venture which will operate and develop a single radio access network (RAN) utilising the duo’s pooled spectrum resources, with the infrastructure itself to be shared by the two operators. Now, it has been suggested that Golan is looking to join the shared network venture, with the local news source citing unnamed executives involved in the deal as saying that preliminary talks are underway. It has been claimed that there is nothing in the Partner-HOT deal that would prevent the inclusion of an additional party to the venture, though it is believed that any real progress is unlikely, until the Ministry of Communications and the Antitrust Authority make their feelings clear regarding the tie-up plans.

In the wake of the revelation of Partner and HOT Mobile’s network sharing deal, fellow wireless operators Pelephone and Cellcom were also said to have begun negotiations regarding co-operation in the sector earlier this month. It was said that Pelephone, the mobile subsidiary of fixed line incumbent Bezeq, and Cellcom were examining whether they might be granted permission to collaborate on the construction of a fourth-generation cellular network. While the talks between the two parties were said to be at a very early stage, it was suggested that a tie-up between Pelephone and Cellcom could face tougher regulatory hurdles than the Partner/HOT agreement though, as in the latter case HOT is considered as a new entrant to the sector, and at end-June 2013 accounted for less than 8% of Israel’s mobile subscribers. By comparison, market leader Cellcom and Pelephone represented 32.1% and 27.5% of the market at that date, and as such it was claimed that the MoC could favour seeing some form of partnership between Golan and one of the two more established operators. Now, however, should Golan strike a deal to work with Partner and HOT Mobile, this could in turn make regulatory approval for a Cellcom-Pelephone partnership more likely.