JERUSALEM Feb 15 Israeli mobile phone operator
Pelephone said on Tuesday it had signed a deal allowing retailer
Rami Levi (RMLI.TA) to use its infrastructure to provide
Pelephone, the mobile phone unit of Bezeq Israel Telecom
(BEZQ.TA), is the first of Israel's four mobile phone operators
to agree to allow a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) to
use its network.
Under the deal, Rami Levi will sell mobile phones and
cellular services at its supermarkets via Pelephone's network,
starting in the third quarter. No other details were disclosed.
Israel's Communications Ministry has taken a series of steps
to boost competition and help lower rates for consumers,
including the licensing of several MVNOs to use the
infrastructure of existing operators to provide services.
Bezeq is Israel's largest telecoms group while Pelephone is
the country's third-largest mobile operator.
Pelephone said the only way to grow is through MNVO deals,
especially since it has a new high-speed network with a large
amount of capacity.
"Pelephone's business strategy in the context of MVNOs is
'co-opetition', which is a combination of competition with
cooperation in infrastructure, with the understanding that's
where the world is going," said Pelephone chief executive Gil
Sharon in a statement.
"The MVNO is another way for us to increase profits in a
changing marketplace, while maximising the capabilities of
Pelephone's advanced network," he said.
Rami Levi will be the second MVNO to sign a deal with
Pelephone. In December, Pelephone agreed to allow an MVNO called
Free Telecom to use its network. [ID:nLDE6BM0CW]
But the first MVNO to receive a licence -- Telecom 365, a
unit of retail group Hamashbir MSBZ.TA -- gave its licence
back to the government, instead signing a deal with Pelephone to
jointly market mobile phone services at some 140 retail
locations owned by Hamashbir. [ID:nLDE6BR0V4]
Israel has four mobile phone operators, the largest being
Cellcom (CEL.TA) (CEL.N), followed by Partner Communications
(PTNR.O) (PTNR.TA), Pelephone and Mirs. The mobile phone
penetration rate in Israel is estimated at about 125 percent,
one of the highest in the world.
(Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter)