Bezeq must open network to rivals

Bezeq Ltd. will be required to open up its network to other providers in return for being allowed to offer packaged services and Internet television, the Communications Ministry announced Wednesday.

Bezeq Ltd. will be required to open up its network to other providers in return for being allowed to offer packaged services and Internet television, the Communications Ministry announced Wednesday. "The decisions I made today, first and foremost the opening up of the infrastructure, will increase competitiveness, clarify the regulatory environment for operators and encourage new investment," Communications Minister Ariel Attias said in an e- mailed statement. Following the successful introduction of one competitor to its network, Bezeq will be allowed to start offering bundled services of Internet and voice, and its satellite broadcast unit will be permitted to provide Internet television, according to the statement. Bezeq is currently blocked from bundling services, putting it at a disadvantage to main rival Hot Telecommunications Systems Ltd. Bezeq, the fixed-line monopoly until Hot entered the market two years ago, has relied mainly on sales from calls and Internet access. It is trying to find new revenue streams, while Hot, as well as cellphone companies Cellcom Israel Ltd. and Partner Communications Ltd., take market share. Attias said he would also try to offer Bezeq incentives to move forward quickly with the building out of its nextgeneration network. Last Wednesday, Bezeq said it had chosen Comverse Technology Inc. to supply the switch technology for the new infrastructure. "The upgrading of the fixed-line infrastructure so that it is line with the rest of the Western world is the main challenge of the Communications Ministry at the end of this decade," according to the statement. (Bloomberg)