The Knesset Economics Committee voted Sunday to continue the recent wave of
reforms in the cellphone industry, approving an order that exempts vendors of
mobile devices from having to obtain a trading license.
Communications Ministry’s order will come into effect 30 days after it is
Cellphone subscription costs have plummeted since May, when
market newcomers Golan Telecom and HOT Mobile launched all-inclusive NIS 99- and
NIS 89-per-month plans, respectively. The three existing competitors, Orange,
Cellcom and Pelaphone, all introduced their own low-cost plans following Golan’s
and HOT’s entries.
Economics Committee chairman Carmel Shama-Hacohen
(Likud) said it made no sense that subscription costs could drop so low while
the cost of devices remain so high. While the rest of the world enjoys a large
supply of cellular devices at low cost, Israeli consumers have been putting up
with reduced supply and high costs, he said.
It was not the government’s
business to inspect every cellphone that comes into the country, Communications
Minister Moshe Kahlon said, adding that he hopes the measure will help increase
the number of importers, expand the range of smartphones on offer to consumers
and put an end to the situation in which buying a cellphone is “like purchasing
Certain cellphones are capable of interfering with the
Iron-Dome rocket-defense system, Lt.-Col. Asher Biton, representing the IDF,
told the committee. He asked how the Communications Ministry intends to prevent
such devices from entering the country.
Kahlon replied that his ministry
has delayed certain devices, including as Apple’s iPad, from being sold in the
country several times in the past due to presumed security risks, but it became
“a laughing stock” when it turned out such fears were unfounded.
military cannot delay everything,” he said. “We are a state that has an army,
and not an army that has a state.”
director-general Eden Bar-Tal said he would request Treasury approval to employ
a team to supervise cellphones after they arrive in Israel.
requested that Sunday’s order only come into effect after the supervisors begin
their work. His suggestion was rejected by the committee.