JERUSALEM, March 10 Partner Communications
, Israel's second-largest mobile phone operator,
reported a 55 percent drop in quarterly profit that missed
estimates in the face of tough competition that has sent calling
Net profit slid to 46 million shekels ($13 million) in the
fourth quarter from 102 million a year earlier, below an
estimate of 49.6 million shekels in a Reuters poll of analysts.
Revenue declined 10 percent to 1.127 billion shekels.
Rates for mobile services have more than halved since the
entry of new providers, who offered unlimited calling plans for
as little as $25 a month.
The monthly average revenue per user at Partner fell 14
percent to 83 shekels last year.
In 2013, Partner - which operates under the Orange
brand name - launched a new 3.5 generation network and invested
in a 4G LTE network, which will be deployed in 2014 and become
operational once the government allocates 4G frequencies.
"In 2013 we continued to invest in our infrastructure and
network ... and information systems, while at the same time
facing intense competition in the telecommunications market,
which significantly reduced our revenues and profits as a result
of substantial price erosion," said Haim Romano, Partner's chief
He said Partner was awaiting progress by Israel's telecoms
regulator to create a wholesale market that will allow Partner
and others to offer TV and other services by leasing the lines
from Bezeq Israel Telecom and cable company HOT.
The Communications Ministry has already established prices
companies will have to pay for telephone and Internet
Partner's subscriber base slipped 1 percent to 2.956 million
in 2013 to stay behind market leader Cellcom's 3.092
Cellcom last week reported a 9.7 percent drop in
fourth-quarter profit, while Bezeq unit Pelephone - Israel's
third-largest mobile operator - recorded an 18.7 percent fall.