Israeli communications minister Gilad Erdan has reportedly decided to allow companies not already active in the country as mobile network operators to take part in the forthcoming 4G tender. According to Globes Online, with the tenders committee having met with Mr Erdan last week to discuss operator’s complaints regarding the terms for the spectrum sale, the matter of potential new entrants was one of the higher priority issues. While it is understood that existing operators were concerned over allowing new players to bid, citing the likelihood of this driving the price for frequencies upwards, the decision not to close the market was made under the belief that an open tender would ensure a more efficient allocation of spectrum.
One area where some concessions have been made, however, is with regard to the rollout requirements for 4G spectrum winners. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, with the Ministry of Communications (MoC) having published the terms of the tender in July 2014, it noted that those that were successful with bids would be required to establish and operate 4G networks covering 30% of the country within 18 months of the date of the licence authorisation, before achieving 65% territorial coverage within three years. By the end of Phase III (four years after the licence award), the 4G networks should provide 100% coverage. Now it is understood that these requirements have been relaxed, though no further information on exactly how was reported.
Meanwhile, a request by Cellcom and Golan telecom to lodge a joint bid for the tender due to a network sharing arrangement between the pair is said to have been rejected by the communications minister. With the MoC arguing that allowing such a bid would likely prompt a similar joint bid from HOT Telecommunication Systems and Partner Communications – which have also agreed to unify their networks – the regulator has claimed that such a situation would likely give new players no chance to compete in the tender.