Israel’s 4G tender ends with six companies claiming new frequencies

14 Jan 2015

Israel’s 4G spectrum tender has concluded with a total of six companies laying claim to new frequencies, the Ministry of Communication (MoC) has revealed. In total the sale raised ILS250.5 million (USD63.5 million) for state coffers, with all five of the nation’s existing cellcos securing spectrum, as well as one of Israel’s international fixed calls and internet providers, 018 Xfone.

Pelephone, the wireless unit of fixed line incumbent Bezeq, bagged the most new spectrum, agreeing to pay a total of ILS96 million for 15MHz in the 1800MHz band (ILS6.4 million per MHz). Both of the other more established cellcos – Partner Communications and Cellcom – each agreed to acquire a 5MHz block in the aforementioned band, with the former paying ILS6.7 million per MHz (ILS33.5 million in total) and the latter ILS6.5 million per MHz (ILS32.5 million). Newer mobile network operators HOT Mobile and Golan Telecom also each secured a 5MHz block in the 1800MHz band, with HOT paying the highest per MHz of any operator, at ILS6.9 million per MHz (ILS34.5 million), and Golan slightly lower than that at ILS6.8 million per MHz (ILS34 million). For its part, 018 Xfone will pay a total of ILS33 million (or ILS6.6 million per MHz) for its Long Term Evolution (LTE)-suitable spectrum.

In announcing the results, the MoC confirmed that companies must use the spectrum to launch 4G services within a year, and should they fail to do so the spectrum will be reclaimed by the state with no refunds offered. Each concession also contains coverage requirements, with all licensees expected to offer services to 30% of the population within 18 months, rising to 65% within 36 months and 100% within 48 months.