LMDS tender scheduled for Jan, winner will compete with Bezeq for local calls

Cellcom is the only company even considering a bid, after Ofek and Barak both withdrew
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Israel's Communications Ministry on Sunday said it will hold a tender on January 10 to award licenses for local telephony services, as the ministry looks to jump-start competition in the industry. Currently, state-controlled Bezeq is a monopoly in local phone and broadband Internet services.

The ministry noted that mobile phone provider Cellcom would likely be the sole bidder for the so-called LMDS license. LMDS, or Local Multipoint Distribution Systems, rivals fiber connections and allows operators to provide high speed-Internet and data services to customers through radio waves.

"We are waiting to see if Cellcom will participate," said a ministry spokeswoman. "If they want to we will be glad. If not, there will not be any companies left."

Cellcom declined to comment on its plans for the tender. Last month, telecoms startup Ofek and long distance operator Barak announced they would drop out of the running for LMDS licences.

Cellcom is owned by BellSouth Corp, Brazil's Safra group and Israel's Discount Investment Corp.