Bezeq hit with $3m fine over failure to sell wholesale telephony service

03 January 2019 | James Pearce

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Bezeq Israel Telecom is facing a $3 million fine from Israel’s telecoms regulator over a failure to sell wholesale telephony services to rivals.

In a notice published at the end of 2018, Bezeq said it had been informed by the Israeli Communications Ministry that it is facing a fine for “breach of provisions in connection with implementation of a wholesale telephony service”.

Bezeq said it is “studying” the ruling from the director general of the Ministry of Communications, and will consider filing a petition against it. The regulator claims the company acted to “delay and thwart the wholesale market reform” first announced in 2015.

Regulators reformed Israel’s wholesale market in 2015, ordering Bezeq to open up its telephony infrastructure to competitors. The company appealed against the decision, but was ordered by regulators to go begin making wholesale services available by August.

Bezeq, which has repeatedly opposed the move claiming it will negatively impact its financials, was warned almost a year ago that should it fail to meet its wholesale requirements, it would face a fine.

Bezeq said “the Company received a notice from the Ministry of Communications whereby the director general of the Ministry of Communications had decided to impose a financial sanction on the Company in the amount of NIS 11,163,290 for breach of provisions in connection with implementation of a wholesale telephony service.

“The Company is studying the decision and weighing the filing of a petition against it.”

Bezeq has already been fined for monopolistic behaviour, being hit with a $8.67 million sanction in March. This was off the back off a year-long probe which found the company had failed to allow rivals to lay fibre through Bezeq’s lines, according to the Times of Israel.

Bezeq has also been linked to an alleged corruption scandal involving Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The company and Netanyahu have denied any wrongdoing.