HOT Telekom now has 50,000 subscribers

The operator has made slow progress in gaining market share.

One year after launching its fixed-line telephony service, HOT Telekom has 50,000 subscribers using its 077 prefix, the cable company said Sunday. HOT, the marketing company of the three cable companies - Golden Channels, Matav Cable Systems and Tevel - which are in the process of merging, added that it has now completed its deployment of the service and is operating now country-wide. The cable company started the service in November last year, breaking Bezeq's long standing monopoly in the fixed-line market, saying at the time that it expects to gain 12 to 15 percent market share within three years. Earlier this year, HOT said it was investing more than NIS 700 million in its telephony services in a move to recruit 400,000 subscribers by 2010. Its targets were 60,000 subscribers in 2005, 65,000 in 2006, a peak of 90,000 in 2007 and 50,000 a year in subsequent years, the company said. The operator has made slow progress in gaining market share and in extending its telephone service around the country - partly because it does not have the cash to better market it. The three cable companies reportedly owe the banks in the region of NIS 5 billion combined, which has been the main stumbling block to their pending merger. Matav announced in July that the three companies are exploring the option of raising up to $800m. through debt financing from Israeli and foreign investors. Meanwhile, HOT said Sunday that it has further expanded its telephone service to include speed dialing and call waiting. Using the Voice over Internet Processing (VoIP) protocol to direct its calls, HOT offers subscribers a calling package of 2000 calling minutes per month for NIS 45.