A 2008 protest by Hot employees.
A 2008 protest by Hot employees. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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Chief scientist’s office leads chip R&D drive

Concerned about a drop-off in the number of semiconductor startups, the Economy Ministry’s Office of the Chief Scientist has launched a research consortium that brings together corporate and academic researchers in the field. The office will invest 70 million shekels ($20.45 million) over the next five years in the consortium. Corporate partners include the publicly traded companies Mellanox, EZchip, Ceva and Ceragon. As part of the program, a new laboratory geared toward improving microchips is being set up at Bar-Ilan University, with other universities participating, the chief scientist’s office said. “The lab is designed to served industry and academia and to be a focus point for developing improved chips, make them faster and reduce design costs,” said Alex Fish, an engineering professor at Bar-Ilan, adding the center would give Israel’s relatively small companies a leg up against bigger rivals in the field. (Inbal Orpaz)

Hot hiring 500 to improve customer service
Under fire for poor customer service, Hot Telecom is taking on 500 new service representatives and investing 25 million shekels ($7.3 million) to improve its information technology and other services, the company said Monday. CEO Zachi Ilan promised to have 200 of the new hires on board this month. “Increasing the size of the workforce will enable us to provide customers with the best possible service and improve waiting times by telephone quickly,” Hot said. The move comes after the Communications Ministry fined the company NIS 1.3 million, citing lengthy waiting times at its call center. Customers might still have a long time to wait for improvement, however; Hot’s previous CEO, Herzl Ozer, vowed the same improvements when he took over in 2008. (Amitai Ziv)

Qualcomm sought Wilocity’s innovative chip
Qualcomm paid a handsome $400 million last week for the Caesarea-based chip maker Wilocity because it has developed technology that enables wireless video from smartphones and desktop computers, sources told TheMarker. The new Wi-Fi chip, due to debut on the market in 2015, enables short-term wireless communications at seven gigabits a seconds, 25 times faster than what is available now. “Not since Bluetooth has any technology succeeded in capturing the home communications space,” said Amir Faintuch, the head of the Qualcomm Atheros unit. “The segment was abandoned to Wi-Fi, but Wi-Fi didn’t have the needed speeds until Wilocity achieved them.” (Amitai Ziv and Inbal Orpaz)