|Gil Sharon, (chairman)|
David Mizrahi, (CEO)
|Products||Fixed line, Mobile telephony, Internet, Cable television|
|Revenue||₪9.98 billion (2015)|
Number of employees
|Subsidiaries||Pelephone, Walla!, yes|
Bezeq (Hebrew: בזק) is an Israeli telecommunications company. Bezeq and its subsidiaries offer a range of telecom services, including fixed-line, mobile telephony, high-speed Internet, transmission, and pay TV (via Yes).
Bezeq was founded in 1984 as a government-owned corporation, taking over the provision of telephony services in Israel, which had been run directly by the Ministry of Communications. The previous system was highly bureaucratic, requiring customers to wait lengthy periods of time for a telephone line.
In the late 1980s Anat Hoffman founded a group to protect the interests of Bezeq customers. A major complaint was that Bezeq did not send customers itemized bills. 46 cases were brought to small claims court and the consumers won 43 of them. Within two years of the campaign. consumers began to receive itemized bills.
In 1998, Bezeq co-founded Yes, a direct-broadcast satellite provider, which began broadcasting in July 2000.
In January 2012, Bezeq International Optical System was completed, a submarine telecommunication cable linking Tel Aviv and Bari in Italy. The system spans 2,300 km of cable, and extended terrestrially from Bari through Interoute's network to major European cities.
In April 2012, Bezeq acquired full ownership of Walla! Communications, Israel's leading Internet portal, which has more than 2.5 Million monthly unique users. Bezeq operates the B144 directory enquiries and yellow pages brand.
In 2018 the company announced that company CEO Stella Handler would be resigning her position. She is one of several Bezeq employees under investigation by the Israel Securities Authority and the Israel Police regarding Bezeq's purchase of Yes shares and allegations of improper dealings with the Israeli Ministry of Communication. Also in 2018, board members Shaul Elovitch, Or Elovitch and Orna Elovitch resigned as a result of Case 4000, an ongoing corruption investigation involving the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Loss of monopoly status
In 1997, two new competitors were introduced in international calling services (Barak and Golden Lines), and Bezeq was obliged to establish a new subsidiarity to compete with them named Bezeq International.
Until the mid-first decade of the 21st century when it was owned by the Israeli government, Bezeq had a monopoly on landline telephony and Internet access infrastructure (ADSL VDSL2). Though still the most dominant provider of telephone services, it has had competition from the sole cable provider in the country (since September 2006), Hot, which offers a cables based telephone and internet access services as of 2005, and with 012 Smile and more recently 013 netvision and Orange.
On 9 May 2005, Israel's Government Companies Authority, headed by Eyal Gabbai privatized Bezeq when 30% of its shares were sold by the state to the Apax-Saban-Arkin investment group for $972 million.
The cellular communications provider Pelephone is a fully owned subsidiary of Bezeq. Bezeq is also the largest shareholder in D.B.S. Satellite Services (1998) Ltd., known by its trademark name, Yes, the DBS television provider in Israel.
In late 2017, bank filed a petition against Elovitch to break up Eurocom Group to pay back loans totaling $275 million. This would directly impact the 10% shareholding in Bezeq, including Elovitch's 26% controlling stake. Meir Shamir has expressed interest in buying a controlling stake, effectively cancelling the debt to the banks. Two other investors have also expressed interest in purchasing a stake in Bezeq, including Argentine investor Eduardo Elsztain and Elliott Management, who announced they had recently purchased a 4,8% stake.
The company's fixed-line domestic communications segment offers domestic carrier services, including basic telephony, Internet infrastructure and access services, and transmission and data communications services. This segment also provides infrastructure, transmission, billing, leasing space, and related services for other communications operators, operates and maintains radio transmitters, carries out set-up and operation works of networks or sub-networks for various customers and offers virtual private networks, data center, and search engine services.
As of December 2012 Bezeq has:
- 2.27 million fixed-line customers
- 2.80 million mobile customers
- 1.17 million high-speed broadband customers
- 578,000 pay TV customers
B Communications, founded in 1999 as 012 Smile.Communications, is a publicly traded company. It currently functions as a holding company of Bezeq and is headquartered in Ramat Gan, Israel. Its shares are traded on the NASDAQ Global Select Market and on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. B Communications is controlled by Searchlight II BZQ L.P (60%) and TNR investments Ltd (11%).
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As the largest telecommunication operator in Israel, Bezeq provides wired and wireless telephone and other communications services to consumer and business subscribers throughout Israel.
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