Pelephone. The new GSM network is here… but…



More than a month without a single line it a long time, but actually January wasn’t too busy with mobile events. So I’ll jump straight to February 3rd. After a long development period, delays and rumors Pelephone has launched its new network working in GSM standard.

For those who don’t know, till now Pelephone was the only CDMA carrier in Israel. Some time ago company’s management has taken a strategic decision to build a completely new infrastructure for GSM network. Two main reasons were: 1) The lack of ability to compete with Partner and Cellcom in roaming propositions and 2) The limited assortment of devices (no Nokia, no Sony-Erickson). The decision has temporarily left Pelephone behind its competitors in terms of network development. While Partner and Cellcom were launching HSDPA and HSUPA technologies (speeds up to 3 mbps), Pelephone was able to provide its customers with a limited speeds only of about 300-400 kbps. Pelephone was trying not to loose customers and was waiting for the new network to become operational.

And here it is. The network is officially up and running. It is said to be supporting speeds up to 14.4 Mbps for download and 5.6 Mbps for download. Yet, for now Pelephone doesn’t provide any modem capable to support those speeds. Customers will have to be satisfied with modems running 7.2 Mbps. In addition, Pelephone guarantees that the new network covers the whole territory of the country (Partner and Cellcom offer HSPA in densely populated areas only). We also have the usual promises to upgrade the network to much higher speeds in the future. HSPA-E pilot was presented demonstrating speeds up to 40 Mbps and more. My guess – it won’t happen soon.

Now a little bit marketing. A few weeks ago I read an interview with Pelephone CEO (CMO ?) and he was saying that despite the new network Pelephone wouldn’t cut prices in order to attract customers. He declared that Pelephone will offer an excellent quality service and content which will do the job. And I was thinking that it is some kind of trick to mislead the competitors.

Indeed, thinking rationally, Pelephone’s new network doesn’t offer anything new on the market. It’s more of the same. I can hardly see how a slightly higher speed may attract the mass market consumer. In addition, it’s clear that Pelephone is interested to utilize the new network capacity as match as possible and in the longer run, to shut the CDMA network down. So, my guess was that Pelephone would behave aggressively to attract new customers and transfer the existing ones to the new network.

Instead, Pelephone chose to soft launch the network. The advertising campaign is due to begin only in a few weeks or even months. Yesterday I’ve passed near Pelephones point of sell in Jerusalem and frankly, I couldn’t have noticed that Pelephone has launched something new. No advertising, no POS-materials – nothing. Only the new Nokia phones on the vitrine. Only when I asked the salesperson whether they offer the new GSM packages she has (unwillingly!) agreed. When asked for details she was unable to provide me something which worth to be mentioned here 🙂

Pelephone’s website has also undergone a change. However, one can’t find too much useful details even there. The new section dedicated to the GSM network doesn’t seem to work correctly. I succeeded only in viewing the new impressive range of phones (not too impressive though).

I’ll try to cover the events and the promo-campaign when it starts and also bring pricing details, tariff options and more. Stay tuned!

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