Techwatch: Bezeq reports rise in business service

Company reports 25% growth in data communications service in first half of 2006.

Bezeq reported this week a significant growth in its services to businesses in the first half of 2006 even as the competition it faces in that arena intensified during the period. The company said it had a 25 percent growth in the first half of 2006 for its flagship product for businesses, data communications service IPVPN. The company also recorded a 30% increase in the number of lines it provides on the service, noting that small- to medium-size businesses' subscriptions to the product has doubled over the six-month period. "The outstanding trend in 2006 for data services is the demand of numerous businesses to upgrade their communications infrastructures and switch to higher bandwidths," Bezeq said. The IPVPN service enables businesses to provide more effective support for various applications that require high bandwidth, stronger links among branches and between branches and management, and secure access to the Internet for distance work. It also reported a 50% rise in customers ordering transmission services. In addition to its competition with HOT Telecom in the telephone market, Bezeq faces a rivalry from newcomers Cellcom and Globcall, which have received licenses to provide service to private homes and businesses this year, with 012 Golden Lines getting a license for businesses only. Following its $1.5 billion buyout of Israeli company M-Systems, Israeli founded SanDisk is investing in boosting capacity on production. First, the company signed a deal to help expand production on Tower Semiconductors' 0.13 micron wafer, and followed that up by increasing production at a planned Japanese flash-memory plant. SanDisk will raise its investment in its facility in Yokkaichi, Japan facility by $350 million to $2.3 billion. Its manufacturing partner, Toshiba Corp., also plans to spend more on the project. Tel Aviv-based provider of video network infrastructure tools Radvision has received approval from the District Court in Tel Aviv Jaffa to spend up to $30m. to buy back up to 2 million of its common shares. Approximately 22.1 million shares are outstanding. It's been a strong week for Israeli start-ups requiring financing for their activities. Herzliya-based start-up WiNetworks, which develops WiMAX (a wireless Internet enabler) and digital video broadcasting (DVB) technologies, raised $11m. in a second round of venture capital funding, sponsored mainly from WiNetworks' existing investors Cedar Fund, Columbia Capital and Rho Capital with Evergreen entering as a new investor. The company was founded in 2003 with seed financing from Cedar Fund. It plans to use the capital raised to expand its operations and accelerate its 'Go to Market' plan. Also, Tel Aviv-based VC firm Infinity Venture Capital said it led a $4.5m. financing round in Applisonix, which develops an ultrasound technology for painless and long-lasting hair removal. Other investors in the round include Infinity's technology incubator Maayan Ventures, Magari Limited, Cyventure Capital and Athena Cyprus. Applisonix had a valuation of slightly more than $6.5m. before this investment. Finally, Rosh Pina-based maker of smart card solutions On Track Innovations Ltd. was named 2006 company of the year in the field of smart cards by consulting firm Frost & Sullivan. It was the second consecutive year that OTI won the award for its work in providing solutions for homeland security, payments, petroleum payments and other applications.