Ministry rejects mobile carriers' plea to lower 3G license fees

Companies also asked state to consider deferring payment until 3G service commences
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The Communications Ministry has rejected the plea of Israel¿s three leading mobile carriers to lower third-generation communications license fees.

Pele-Phone Communications, Cellcom, and Partner Communications (Nasdaq, TASE:PTNR, LSE:PCCD) had met with Communications and Finance ministry officials several times demanding that the 3G tender terms be changed, TheMarker.com has learned.

Pele-Phone Jacob Gelbard told TheMarker.com that the economic aspects of the license requires further discussion.

He said that the company had asked the Communications Ministry to lower the license fees and offer better payment conditions, but the ministry refused to discuss the matter any further.

Gelbard said that given the regulatory process in other countries, Pele-Phone had asked the ministry to consider basing license fees on 3G royalties, but the ministry rejected this too.

Partner CEO Amikam Cohen had asked that the state lower 3G fees and bill providers only after 3G service is actually introduced. He also requested that the license be extended to a 20-year period.

The tender committee recently decided to reschedule the $55 million 3G license fees until 2006.

Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin recently told TheMarker.com that the ministry will consider anything that is of relevance, but that there is nothing of the sort now. The spectrum auction is due to be held in December.