Israeli mobile network operator Partner Communications has announced that the country’s Antitrust Commissioner has given the green light for its network sharing agreement with HOT Mobile, the wireless subsidiary of local cableco HOT Telecommunication Systems. As per the duo’s plans, Partner and HOT Mobile will create a 50/50 joint venture which will operate and develop a cellular network using their pooled Radio Access Network (RAN) infrastructures. The JV will seek to optimise the shared network by reducing the number of network sites, while improving network coverage and capacity and introducing new technology ‘in order to improve network efficiency, optimise operating costs and reduce environmental impact’.
It has been confirmed that the deal is, however, subject to conditions, including: a ban on the exchange of information between the two parties not required for the activities of the JV; the allowance for either HOT or Partner to engage in third-party agreements for the provision of mobile services involving the use of its own core network, while the rights and obligations deriving from such service agreement would not apply to the JV; and a stipulation that after seven years from the date of the Commissioner’s approval, or after six years from the issuing of approvals by the Ministry of Communications, whichever is earlier, the Commissioner will be permitted to rescind permission for the JV if it has proved to be ‘substantively detrimental’ to competition. Should a cancellation notice be issued, a procedure for dismantling the JV has been set out, with all activity apart from the management, maintenance and operation of the passive network to cease within two years. Subsequently, within five years of the issuance of a cancellation notice, the companies would be required to dismantle the JV and separate their assets fully and entirely.