CEO of fiber-optic-Internet Firm Unlimited Steps Down as Service Rolls Out Slowly

The firm is about two years behind in rolling out service to more areas of the country.

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Danny Lauber, the chief executive of fiber-optic-Internet company Unlimited, said Sunday he would step down after leading the firm since shortly after its inception and after securing approval for a new business plan last week.

The company, also known as Israel Broadband, or IBC, is considerably behind its plans to roll out service.

Lauber said his decision was motivated by a desire to return to the international business sector, and he will continue as chief executive of ViaEuropa Israel, Unlimited’s controlling shareholder. No successor to Lauber at Unlimited has been tapped.

The company is about two years behind in rolling out service to additional areas of the country. It has a weak market presence and is not signing up large numbers of new customers.

This is causing cash flow problems, leaving the company desperate for an infusion from its shareholders. Unlimited currently offers fast fiber-optic Internet in Tel Aviv, the Sharon region between Tel Aviv and Haifa, and the Be’er Sheva region in the south.

As the man who led the development of the company’s business plan, Lauber has committed to keep helping with fundraising.

Unlimited’s recovery plan for this year and next includes gearing up for a fast expansion to other parts of the country. But these efforts require an injection of hundreds of millions of shekels by shareholders over the next two years, and there is no assurance the shareholders will agree.

Lauber is a former senior executive with Cisco, the U.S.-based networking equipment developer. He then became the Israeli representative of Sweden-based ViaEuropa, which owns a 30% stake in IBC. In September 2013 he was named temporary chief executive of IBC and a month later his appointment was made more permanent.

Things appeared to be going well for the company as of July, when it had some 350 buildings hooked up to its fiber-optic network. Another 300 to 400 buildings were slated to be added each month.

Some observers were concerned about the company’s ownership structure, which includes Cisco as well as ViaEuropa. They feared the owners would pull the company in different directions. The Israeli shareholders are Tamares Telecom, BATM Advanced Communications, Rapac Communication and Yehuda Zisapel.