bezeq logo 88.
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Bezeq will be looking to gain some ground on its competitors next month, responding to the pending rate hike by the cellular providers by cutting its prices on calls to the cellular networks.
The company said Sunday it would drop its prices by an average 10.5 percent, effective from March 1 when the three largest cellular operators, Cellcom, Partner and Bezeq subsidiary Pelephone all intend to raise prices.
Bezeq said the move would make it the cheapest option for calling a cellular number, even compared to calls made within the same network.
Calls to any of the four cellular companies from a Bezeq phone will be 37.43 agorot (including VAT) per minute instead of the 41 agorot currently charged, it said.
Cellcom, on Sunday, followed similar announcements from Pelephone and Partner from last week, saying it would raise its rates an average 4.3% for private consumers and 5.2% for business customers effective March 1.
Each of the cellular companies said they decided to raise their rates to offset the losses caused by the government's program to drop the interconnect fees they can charge for calls made between networks and its ruling that they cannot charge for calls that end up in voice mail for which the caller hangs up before leaving a message.
The Communications Ministry responded sharply to the rate hikes, noting that it was not too long ago that the cellular companies announced their last price hikes.
"How is it that companies with revenues of billions of shekels per year raise their prices for customers every few months," the ministry said. "They are not responding to a need or to the regulatory process. They raise their prices not because they need to but because they can."
The ministry added that the trend of raising prices was evidence that the cellular market was not yet competitive in favor of the consumer.
Meanwhile, Bezeq took the opportunity to stress that its tariff cut was the third it has put in place in the last two years which have brought a 37% drop in the price of calls to cellular networks.
Under its new rate table, Bezeq will charge 11.9 agorot per minute for calls to a regular phone line made between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and 4.9 agorot during night hours.
A spokesperson for HOT, Bezeq's biggest competitor in the telephone arena, said the cable company has no intention of changing its prices at this time.