Israel’ Antitrust Authority is likely to approve a 4G network sharing agreement between mobile operators Partner Communication and HOT Mobile announced in November last year, local press reports claim. According to Globes Online, the watchdog is expected to give its approval to the deal by 7 April, although it is understood that it will do so only with strict limitations in place. While details regarding the terms of its approval remain unconfirmed, it has been claimed that these could include a limitation on the timeframe of the agreement, while the eventual allocation of 4G-suitable spectrum could also impact on the deal.
Meanwhile, once a decision regarding the Partner/HOT agreement has been announced, the Antitrust Authority is expected to issue a verdict on the proposed tie-up between market leader Cellcom, Pelephone and Golan Telecom. Sources have been cited as saying that this deal is far less likely to be approved, even with stringent conditions, with it said to see ‘no important reason’ to allow Pelephone and Cellcom to collaborate.
In addition, Israel’s Ministry of Communications is due to publish its policy statement on network sharing soon, and it is believed that it will suggest that there should be three networks used by the five carriers. The ministry is said to have dismissed Pelephone and Cellcom’s argument that a shortage of frequencies would create a market imbalance between the carriers if Partner and HOT are allowed to share infrastructure while they cannot.