Cellular Price War Heats Up in Israel With Free 3-month Service

A number of cellular providers are offering rock-bottom prices.

The latest volleys in the cellular service price war were fired last week with supermarket mogul Rami Levy offering the first three months to new customers for a shekel a month, recalling his chicken-for-a-shekel promotions. Pelephone, meanwhile, is offering a similar free service for the first three months.

Pelephone is offering its promotion to new customers who sign up by the end of this month Thursday. After the initial free period, customers will pay NIS 99 per month, including 1 gigabyte of Internet access. Rami Levy Communications’ customers will pay NIS 88 per month after the promotional period for the company’s unlimited plan, which includes 1 gigabyte of Internet access.

Other players are offering similar limited-time promotions. HOT Mobile is advertising a NIS 9.90 plan that includes international long-distance calls, as several companies offer. It too is limited to new customers, who after the first four months will pay NIS 99 per month.

YouPhone is offering a similar four-month plan for NIS 39 per month, after which customers will pay NIS 79 a month, with the option of partial credit for purchases at Mega supermarkets and Dor Alon gas stations. Service provider 012 Mobile has a limited-time NIS 44 monthly plan and Golan Telecom a NIS 49 plan.

Although the rock-bottom prices are only for the first several months, the competition has made providers extend their promotional periods. Golan Telecom, for example, decided last week to keep on offering its plan, which had been due to expire last week.

Until the middle of last year, the cellular market was dominated by three major companies: Cellcom; Partner, which does business as Orange; and Pelephone, a unit of Bezeq. The Communications Ministry then took steps to open the market to competition, sending prices sharply lower, notably after Golan Telecom and HOT Mobile made their high-profile entries.

Nir Kafri