The breakthrough of the Internet speed

October 10, 2009

post_iconBezeq, the largest Israeli telco has launched a new fiber optic network – the NGN. Though the event  is not exactly belongs to the mobile world,  I think it may have significant and long lasting effects on the whole Israeli communication market, so it worth to say a few words about it (especially due to the fact I had a chance to visit the public launch event and even shot a a few pics there).

NGN event stage

NGN event stage

During the last year Bezeq has started to deploy its upgraded fiber optic infrastructure branded as NGN (Next Generation Network). The new network enabled the company to start offering new high speed internet connections packages: At first 10 and 15 Mbps, then 30 Mbps and in the near future (according to Bezeq) 50 Mbps. The pricing though still remains a weak point (in my view). One who would like to order a 10 Mbps package will have to pay an average monthly fee of almost ILS 90 (~$25) while a 30 Mbps will cost ILS 400 (~$108). This is still very pricey and the question is dual: first, will  the faster packages press down the price of the lighter packages and secondly, will the price of the fast packages be reduced

Demonstration netbooks

Demonstration netbooks

over the time. The first question has got a partially positive answer by now – for example 2.5 Mbps package price has been reduced; yet it still has a long way down IMHO. The more complete answers to these questions will be seen later when the NGN infrastructure will reach the majority of population (by 2010).

Now to the launching event. It was widely promoted on the national TV and was present on outdoor billboards. The promos promised some kind of ‘happening’ and a demonstration pavilion in the old Tel-Aviv harbor compound. The open-air ‘happening’ featured a stage with various activities for families and performance of local artists. It has clearly demonstrated that Bezeq is interested to penetrate with the service directly to the mass market skipping the stage of tech fans and early adopters.

The demonstration pavilion was a bit disappointing. It featured a few areas. Close to the entrance were placed netbooks which allegedly had to show the superior speed of NGN. In practice there were no installed application which were able to demonstrate it and the netbooks were conquered by children surfing the Facebook.  Another area demonstrated ‘the living room of the future’ showcasing a streaming HD picture of a soccer game. Bezeq staff was absolutely proud of the streamer box and willingly explained how the streamer is connecting wirelessly to the router and transmitting the picture to the TV without any PC.

HD streaming (The living room of the future)

HD streaming (The living room of the future)

Additional compound showed the new services launched by Bezeq which not exactly depend on NGN. Among the services are IP-telephony (which is already operational but can only be connected to a PC but not to IP-phone). The pricing of the service is similar to a regular phone line. Another service is file storage. It’s unclear to me which target is pursued by Bezeq in launching this service. It is similar to many free web storage service but unlike them it costs money. In addition, the file size is limited to 50 MB only. On my question what makes the service unique, Bezeq staff answered that it has a Hebrew user interface and that it is more reliable that regular web freebies.

IP-telephony & storage service demo

IP-telephony & storage service demo

The last mention worth item was a model of the NGN gateway box. It was explained that one such box can serve up to 500 households and this is the final point of the fiber optic. The box connects to the old copper wires which can’t be longer than 70 meters.

I’ve also asked whether Bezeq is planning to provide content for high connection speeds. They said that in the short run they are only going to offer ‘light’ content such as ringtones and there is no intention to become a content provider. In my view though, the key question is will Bezeq receive regulator’s permission to provide IPTV services and what will happen in this case with Bezeq affiliated YES satellite TV company. If IPTV platform will be launched satellite broadcasting will become unnecessary and is likey to be shut down. However this is a matter of too distant feature.

Now, discussing the consequences of this launch and taking into consideration that HOT cable company is about to start similar service in a short time, it’s obvious that mobile carriers will have to upgrade their speed too if they want to continue the trend of the recent years of positioning themselves as leaders of the communication market. This raises the question whether the carriers are ready to invest in LTE and acquire additional frequencies for it.

NGN gateway

NGN gateway

There is no doubt though that the launch of NGN network was critical for Israel as after being a leader in communication field,  in the last few years it has been left behind not only by the futuristic 🙂 countries such as Japan and S. Korea but also by many European countries.

iPhone Campaign- Orange (Partner), Cellcom and Pelephone Join Hands

September 7, 2009

post_iconCellcom, Partner (Orange brand) and Pelephone, will join efforts and resources in order to launch one single iPhone capaign for all Israeli operators bringing the iPhone.
Each operator has obliged to contribute 1.5 million ILS  in order to promote iPhone sales together with the exact same campaign. Yes you are reading correctly- the “fierce” competition will be forgotten through the campaign in order to creat a win-win situation for operators.

Actually this initiative kind of makes sense, because Apple doesn’t allow any of the operators to change the campaign creative- with the same (boring, techy) ads in every country regardless of culture, religion and weather 🙂 …

Apple is expected to contact the Commissioner of regulation Ronit Kann to ensure that the activity is conducted in accordance with the regulation – which according to Apple, could delay the launch…

The mobile blog of Israel is speculating that Apple may use this as an excuse to delay the launch and maybe just didn’t manufature enough iPhones to fulfil the demand … and not just in Israel.. (then again just a speculation).

Meanwhile The Mobile Blog of Israel is considering to buy a little Android baby for itself, but waiting for a true Hero..

Cellcom launches Cellcom Volume

September 5, 2009


Cellcom will revive Arad festival on Sukkot holiday (Festival of booth) between the 5th- 7th of October,  for teenagers and young adults.

The operator will turn the Arad city to a city of  music, after a few years in which the festival has been shut down. Participants will enjoy live performances and parties.  Estimated project cost – 14 million NIS.

Among artists intended to prefom: Ivri Leader, Aviv Gefen, Yonni Bloch, Assaf Amdursky, Maor Cohen, Shiri Maymon and more…

The festival will be called “Cellcom Volume Arad” like previous Cellcom festivals such as “Cellcom Volume Kineret“.

It seems that Cellcom are ready to invest a lot of money in order to engage youth segment with the brand and to connect the Cellcom brand with other types of media rather than mobile, such as : music and entertainment.

Here’s the TV ad for the new activity (Notice it says Cellcom Media on it). Ireally liked it, it’s really different from other Cellcom TV ads which usually focus on what’s Israeli and targets an emotional focus. This time it’s actually catchy, hip, and has a real message that comes through.


Partner Orange – updates

August 29, 2009

Partner  Partner Orange Sale: Israeli Samsung distributor, Scailex Corp. has made a binding offer to buy a majority stake in local mobile network operator, Partner. The 51% stake is currently owned by Hutchison Telecommunications who have previously said they are looking to sell the company.

Though Ben-Dov’s agreement is to buy 51% of Partner, that doesn’t mean he has to keep all the shares. He’s selling a 5% stake to Bank Leumi (irrespective of money he’s borrowing from Leumi) for NIS 515 million, and may sell more shares to Bank Mizrahi-Tefahot in order to fund his purchase.

Partner Orange Ramadan BTL promotion: Every year mobile operators launch a promotion for the muslim sector in Israel to increase their loyalty and encourage usage. The promotions are usually kept bellow the line in order to appeal only to this specific sector.

This year- Orange (Partner) was giving away 2000 minutes for calls at night (between 21:30-05:30) for muslims during Ramadan fast which lasts a month. All customers had to do was to send a text message with the word Ramadan to the number 999 and get the reward.

But this things did’nt go as planned and the Ramadan offer only dedicated to muslim customers was exposed on Ynet- the biggest Israeli news portal. As a result, that many customers who are not muslims started to send texts to recieve the 2000 reward, in other words- abusing the promotion.

The final result was- leading to the promotion cancelation within two days after launch since Orange couldn’t handle the demand.

What do you think?

Pelephone’s New Musix Ad- An Update

August 15, 2009

Orange’s new repair service- a good experience

August 14, 2009

 It’s been bothering me for a while that my mobile is turning itself off after 3 min of every call I make, certainly made my bills thinner, but yet quite a drag. I have been carrying the same Sony Ericsson for a year or so and was planning to upgrade to the new iPhone or HTC Magic Android (Soon coming from Pelephone) – and left the decision to when they will arrive to Israel so I can compare and make a wiser resolution.

So, you may understand why I didn’t want to spend any money on repairing a mobile that I intend to replace soon…

So.. I  have been postponing it for some time, but on last Thursday I decided- no more 3 min calls (!)  and went to repair my mobile at an Orange point of service near my work.

Upon entering I took a number and waited for about 5 minutes to get service. When my number came up I approached a desk and was ready to get upset… (Like any good Israeli)

After I Explained to the representative at the desk the problem and mentioned why I don’t intend to spend a lot of money on the repair she surprisingly gave me a 50% discount with no arguments. I was pleased. Then, she backed up all my numbers,  gave me a simple Nokia handset to use while mine  is being repaired, and told me that it would take 2 business days.

She then offered me to send the handset to my house with a discounted delivery (20ILS instead 44 ILS) or to pick it up from any point of sale or customer care center in my area. I chose to pick it up from the same place.

When I was about to leave, she gave me extra 120ILS to spend on content downloads from the Orange portal, that was a treat that left me smiling, though she mentioned to cancel it after I am done or I’ll be charged for a regular content package on the next month. I left with a big smile.

Orange have recently changed the way they deliver their repair service as well as the whole processes inside their points of service and sale around Israel.

I picked up the brochure explaining the new repair process to customers so I will translate it for you native english speakers:

1. Starting now you can give away your handset for repair in one of 70 Orange points spread in malls and centers around the country.

2. The handset will be sent to a proffesional unique lab, and will go through a comrehensive repair and a meticulous quality check.

3. Meanwhile you will get an alternative handset which will allow you to stay connected

4. You will bw able to pick up your phone from any Orange point after 2 business days or to receive it with a delivery (available for a fee).

Orange service2

Orange service1

Samsung Galaxy with android OS now available through Cellcom

August 9, 2009

cellcom      Cellcom is introducing today the first Android based device in Israel, the Samsung Galaxy.Galaxy

According to reviews from around the globe the Galaxy is an android based phone better fitted for mainstream users and not just technophiles (Like me 🙂 ).

The Samsung Galaxy (i7500) is featuring a 3.2 inch AMOLED touchscreen display, and 5-megapixel camera (with LED flash).

With a thickness of just 11.9 millimeters, the Galaxy handset is actually slimmer than both the HTC Magic and the Apple iPhone 3G.

 The handset will be available for eager shoppers for 94.50 ILS per month on a 36 months contract with a monthly rebate cutting the price to 10 ILS per month for heavy users with a 399 ILS monthly bill. (A price much too expensive for yours truly..)

In order to promote the new device, Celcom has launched a contest urging people to photograph a unique object they own and explain why it is so unique in order to win and trade that object for a brand new Galaxy Phone.

10 of the most unique objects will be traded for 10 Samsung Galaxy handsets.


Update: Cellcom has launched a commercial for the new Andriod device saying : “There’s nothing like the first time excitement” implying on being the first to launch the Android OS in Israel.


Mobile reality becomes a reality in Cellcom

July 20, 2009


A few days ago I accidentally spotted a strange banner in the web. A queer, magenta-clad person with a text – “I was asked to propose you a friendship”. Interesting, isn’t it? The only hint about the origin of ad was the magenta color – resembling the brand colors of Cellcom. The click on the banner gave no additional information – the same teasing odd guy said wait until 26.7. Today I came over the same banner again and tried it one more time. This time I was luckier. I landed on a page dedicated to the first mobile reality show in Israel. Moreover, not just a reality but a first of a kind in the world (according to Cellcom, I’ll try to check it later).

The show will present 8 participants closed in a single space during 21 days. Their lives will be totally controlled by the spectators – the mobile (and internet users) of course. Cellcom says that even decisions like when to sleep will be dictated by the audience. The show is called “haMegudalim” which may be translated as “persons you raise”. The idea is that the 8 persons will be like lab rats pets; the game begins when they have nothing to wear (except for their colorful robes) in an empty room.



"The Lab"

"The Lab"

Cellcom has released two videos promoting the show and has also registered a page in Facebook. There are some pictures of what they call “the lab” of the show. I must say it looks like a computer design and this makes be doubt whether the game will showcase humans or something like SIMS.

A very interesting move by Cellcom. I believe the cost of the production of this kind of show is not astronomic and it can create a very significant ‘hype’ in its target audience – teenagers.

Partner (Orange) is up for sale

July 18, 2009


For many months the industry vibes were implying that Hutchison is about to sell its stake in Partner IL. Vibes that weren’t confirmed until very recently.

Ha’aretznewspaper says that Hutchison Whampoa who owns 51% stake in Partner Communications (PTNR), has informed Ilan Ben-Dov on thursday that his offer to buy its controlling interest in Partner Communications has reached the next stage. He was the first potential buyer to receive such notice.

Other contenders for Hutchison’s stake include Shaul Elovitch’s company Eurocom, Ishay Davidi’s private equity fund FIMI, and Leumi Partners, which put together a group hat includes the Migdal insurance company, Mivtachim, and former banker Shlomo Nehama. The first stage, which Ben-Dov has passed, involved proposing a non-binding offer. The second stage will grant them access to Partner’s confidential information, after which they’ll have to make a binding offer.

According to Reuters, Standard & Poor’s Maalot said on Tuesday it moved Partner Communications (PTNR.TA) (PTNR.O) to CreditWatch “developing” from “positive”, after Hutchison Telecommunications International (2332.HK) said it might sell its stake in the mobile operator. “A possible change in Partner’s ownership structure could have an impact on the company’s financial structure and as a result also on its financial risk profile,” the Israeli S&P unit said in a statement to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.

Meanwhile, Orange has won Israel’s leading communications brand (and second of  all brand after Coca-Cola) for the seventh consecutive year, followed by Cellcom.

Pelephone said to be recruiting staff to prepare for iPhone

July 18, 2009

post_iconPelephone is rumored to start recruiting students for temporary sales positions in order to push iPhone and Andriod pre-sales and sales up until September.

Intersting.. Just to remind you that all operators (maybe except Cellcom? ) signed a contract with Apple obligating them to sell 80,000 iPhones per year.

And let’s finish with a poll – what do you think?  “The mobile blog of Israel” craves for your opinion.