Knesset Panel to Consider Not Lowering Cellular Fees After All

Ilan Ben-Dov, the new owner of Partner, meets personally with MKs - despite company's legions of lobbyists.

MKs on the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee are caving in to pressure from the cellular companies and coming out against the decision of Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon to cut connection fees paid to cellular operators. MK Yulia Shamalov-Berkovich (Kadima ) asked for the committee meeting on the fee reduction and the reforms in the cellular market. Three other MKs also asked for such a meeting. Committee chairman Ofir Akunis (Likud ) has called the session for next week.

Consumers pay the connection fees when they call between networks, such as from Bezeq to cellular phones.

Knesset session, May 3, 2010

The cellular firms have hired lobbyists to pressure MKs, and even Ilan Ben-Dov, the new owner of Partner, has met personally with MKs - despite the companies' legions of lobbyists.

The companies have until Thursday to reply with their answers on the matter to the ministry, which is conducting a hearing process on the matter for the companies.

Akunis, who also met with representatives of Partner, said he supports cutting the fees. MK Carmel Shama (Likud ) said he also supports lower connectivity costs, and "as of now, the cellular companies have not managed to refute the Communications Ministry's claims."

Two other committee members, Nachman Shai (Kadima ) and Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas ), said they have not met with company representatives and intend to support the cuts.