Bezeq Communications is launching a discount cellular telephone service through its Walla content website. Walla yesterday announced the launch of its cellular service using the infrastructure of another Bezeq subsidiary, Pelephone.
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Dubbed Walla Mobile, customers will be able to sign up for its service via the Walla website at prices starting at 9.90 shekels per month (about $2.50) for customers deemed light users and up to 59 shekels per month for an unlimited package that includes 6 GB of Internet usage. Customers will also be required to pay a one-time charge for the company’s SIM card. Like its competitor Golan Telecom, Walla Mobile will provide customer service via its website. Ilan Yeshua, Walla Mobile’s CEO, promised to provide the cheapest prices in the market.
Bezeq’s Pelephone division is one of three long-standing players in the cellular service market, along with Cellcom and Partner, which does business as Orange. It appears that Pelephone is now following Partner’s lead in offering discounted service under another brand. In Partner’s case, the service is offered through 012 Smile, a wholly-owned Internet subsidiary.
In the past, Pelephone refrained from such a move because it had been providing transmission infrastructure to HOT Mobile, meaning that every customer that HOT Mobile recruited boosted Pelephone’s own revenues because it could charge HOT for the service. In the fourth quarter of this year, the relationship ended with HOT, which switched to using Partner’s transmission facilities. HOT Mobile’s move to Partner resulted in substantial revenue losses for Pelephone. It is now trying to fill the gap through Walla Mobile in that segment of the market that is most sensitive to price.