Israel ministry issues tender for 4G mobile networks

TEL AVIV, July 2 Wed Jul 2, 2014 8:03am EDT

TEL AVIV, July 2 (Reuters) - Israel's Communications Ministry on Wednesday issued a tender to operate fourth generation (4G) mobile phone networks that will enable users to upload and download content at three to five times current speeds.

Five mobile operators in Israel have their own 3G networks but there are not enough frequencies in 4G to support all of them, the ministry said in a statement. Therefore, the ministry will allow operators to share networks.

There will be at least three cellular operators in the 4G market and operators will have to deploy their networks equally in the centre of the country and in peripheral areas.

Any entity with capital of 100 million shekels ($29 million)can participate in the tender and the last date to submit proposals is Sept. 28, 2014.

Israel's three largest mobile operators - Cellcom, Partner and Bezeq Israel Telecom unit Pelephone are engaged in a price war following a shake-up of Israel's mobile phone industry in 2012 that ushered in six new operators. Two of the new competitors - Golan Telecom and HOT mobile, which is owned by French cable group Altice - have their own infrastructure.

Golan is partly owned by Xavier Niel, who founded France's Iliad.

In May, Cellcom announced a 4G network sharing agreement with Golan while Partner said it received anti-trust approval for a network sharing agreement with HOT. ($1 = 3.4237 Israeli Shekels) (Reporting by Tova Cohen)