Israel’s Ministry of Communications is to issue two new mobile licences, in order to increase competition in the country’s telecoms sector, Reuters reports. Applications for the new licences must be submitted by 1 February 2011, and existing operators cannot apply in order to increase their own spectrum allocations – with the exception of number four operator Mirs. The minimum bid for a licence is ILS10 million (US$2.71 million), with a framework in place to reimburse fees over this amount if certain conditions are met. Licensees will have seven years to deploy networks.

According to Wireless Intelligence data, Israel currently has four mobile operators for a population of 9.84 million: market leader Cellcom, with a 33.9 percent market share; Partner Communications (Orange) with 31.5 percent; Pelephone (Bezeq) with 28.5 percent; and iDEN operator Mirs with a 6.1 percent share. Reuters also says that eight requests for MVNO permits are currently being assessed, on top of four already issued.