Golan Telecom open to foreigners

Company is first to scrap the national ID requirement, opening its doors to a market of tourists, frequent visitors and immigrants.

Cellular phones are displayed in a store 370 (R) (photo credit: Erik de Castro / Reuters)
Cellular phones are displayed in a store 370 (R)
(photo credit: Erik de Castro / Reuters)
Golan Telecom, a year-old discount-cellular carrier that entered the market in the wake of government reforms, opened its services to foreigners and tourists on Monday.
Instead of requiring an Israeli ID number to register with the company, Golan now only requires a credit card, domestic or foreign, and a passport. It said that it’s the first cellular company to scrap the national ID requirement, opening its doors to a market of tourists, frequent visitors and immigrants, a market it estimates at 150,000-300,000 people.
“It was a serious number of people, much more than we originally thought,” Golan Telecom CEO Michael Golan told The Jerusalem Post. Residents from abroad, in particular, can benefit from Golan’s all-inclusive packages that include free international calling, he said.
“There are many people who live part-time in Israel and they want to enjoy the cellular revolution,” he added.
The company has, thus far, attracted 260,000 customers with low-cost or free introductory packages. Yet it still faces some challenges. One is pulling in profits with its rock bottom prices. Another is government- required investments.
Part of the reforms that allow Golan and other new entrants to the field such as HOT Mobile to piggy-back off existing cellular infrastructure also requires the companies to build their own infrastructure to cover 90 percent of the population within seven years.
Those efforts, the company told the Communications Ministry in a letter last month, were proving difficult.
The prime reason, it said, was that government bureaucracy was too onerous to allow it to efficiently set up new antennas.
“There’s a process of making the antennas more easy, simple and quick to build,” said Golan optimistically. The new government, he added, is also weighing options to open up land lines and television lines in the same vein as it did the cellular ones. That, he said, could provide the company another growth opportunity.