Israel telecom regulator signals likely to allow Bezeq to merge units

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Bezeq Israel Telecom said on Sunday it had received notice that Israel’s telecoms regulator would likely allow Bezeq to merge its various business units.

Bezeq, Israel’s dominant telecoms operator, had long argued for an end to its “structural separation”, in which it is forced to keep its mobile phone, fixed line, satellite TV and internet units as separate entities.

Permitting an end to structural separation would ultimately allow Bezeq to offer packages of phone, internet and TV. Its smaller competitors, many of which are barely making profit, have urged the regulator to keep the structural separation in tact, arguing that Bezeq will become more powerful.

The Communications Ministry, Bezeq said, hinges on Bezeq’s commitment to invest in infrastructure and accelerate the deployment of a fiber optics broadband network in 2017 and reach 76 percent of households within three years.

Before amending Bezeq’s license, the ministry intends to hold a hearing during 2017 regarding the procedures of the cancellation of the structural separation.

Bezeq said it was examining the prospect of implementing measures to allow it to merge its units.

Reporting by Steven Scheer