Cellular companies in Israel will no longer be allowed to offer per-minute call-rate tariff packages to new customers, the Ministry of Communications decided on Monday.
"Citizens are losing money day-by-day, minute-by-minute because of the per-minute billing tariff, said Communications Minister Ariel Attias. "As part of our policy to protect the consumer, it is our responsibility to put an end to this billing matrix."
Starting from the beginning of September, a ministry spokesperson told The Jerusalem Post, all cellular companies will not be allowed to market per-minute tariff plans to new subscribers, while existing subscribers will have the option to switch to a per-second tariff plan.
According to data compiled by the ministry, 64 percent of all cellular phone calls were less than a minute and as a result, on average, 25%-40% of a cellphone "minute plan" bill was unused airtime. The ministry added that research showed the rate of subscribers on the per-minute tariff as a percentage of all private subscribers in the cellular market rose from 1% in September 2005 to 10% in May 2006.
Beginning at the end of 2005, cellphone companies began offering their customers "minute plans" in which subscribers were charged for a full minute of service whether or not the entire 60 seconds was used. In order to offer this plan, however, cellphone providers had to agree to offer customers a "12-second option" as well, in which calls are charged in 12-second increments. However, mobile phone companies directed most of their marketing toward presenting customers with the "minute plan," with one company in particular having 80% of its subscribers signed up to that plan.