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Bezeq demands cellular operators Cellcom, Partner pay 3% of its bad debt

Cellular carriers ready to pay according to airtime through Bezeq network

The state-owned phone company Bezeq and the cellular operators Cellcom and Partner Communications (Nasdaq, TASE:PTNR, LSE:PCCD) continue to differ on the subject of the share of the wireless carriers in Bezeq's bad debts.

Bezeq is demanding that the share of the cellular firms in its total bad debt be in the range of 2.75% to 3%. Cellcom and Partner object to a share above 1.5%.

Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin has drafted an interim settlement, according to which the share of the wireless carriers will come to 2.5% of Bezeq's lost debt. The arrangement may be valid until January 1, 2003.

In his proposal a month ago, the minister suggested Bezeq pay Cellcom and Partner for airtime accessed through the Bezeq network, irrespective of Bezeq's success in collecting the monies.

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The aim of this arrangement was to settle the dispute on the lost debt and the billing fee relating to Bezeq billing its customers for calls to cellular subscribers. In the past Bezeq billed wireless companies about 5%, including commission fees, on bad debt.

Bezeq believed it should transfer to the cellular providers only those monies actually collected from customers. The cellular companies demanded that the calculation be based on traffic volume, actual airtime used.