|Comparing Israel Mobile Phone Plans||| Print ||
Mobile Phone Carriers in Israel
Hebrew: ספקי שירות - פלאפון
Originally there were 3 mobile phone carriers in Israel
Cellcom has always been the market leader.
A few years ago, when very little information was available in English, new immigrants found it difficult to choose a mobile phone plan. They often felt that they had been coerced into signing a contract without fully understanding what they had signed up for and the nuances and full implications of their contract. There were many stories of people receiving outrageous bills which they were generally forced to pay as they did not have sufficient Hebrew skills and could not get proper explanations in English. Customer service representatives were known to be impatient and impolite and would even slam down the phone or walk away from a meeting.
Thankfully, things have improved.
The Anglo-list took up the challenge and for the first time ever a translation of a mobile phone bill was published on this site. More recently a new website was established to provide English speakers with the information they need to make wise and well considered choices in the mobile phone market - IsraelCellCompare.
The summer of 2012 brought about a revolution in the mobile phone market and 5 new carriers came onto the scene. Among them, HOT Mobile and Golan Telecom entered the market and they began discounting mobile phone plans. Both started by offering unlimited plans for only 99 Shekels. This prompted the other mobile phone carriers to re-evaluate their packages and pricing.
Today the 8 carriers are; Cellcom, Pelephone, Orange, HOT Mobile, Golan Telecom, Rami Levy, 012 Mobile and YouPhone. Competition between these 8 carriers is fierce and they are now all offering discounted packages.
Golan Telecom has a package that starts from as little as 9 Shekels per month for a limited and metered plan and there are increases in price to 159 Shekels per month for an unlimited call plan that include calls to mobile phones and landlines overseas - offered by Cellcom. This is a far cry from the pre-revolution costs which ran into the hundreds of Shekels per month. (It should be noted that the prices quoted here are correct as of December 2012 but are subject to change at the discretion of the carrier.)
It is important to note that not all packages include international calls. Some of the packages that do, include calls to specific countries only. Calls to international land-lines and international mobile numbers may be charged at different rates as well. Read the small print.
The Older Generation
Some of the plans that are available are suitable for older phones and others are suitable for 3rd generation phones only. Therefore, some include Internet and some do not. It is important to sign up with a carrier that can support your phone. For example not all of the carriers can support a Blackberry which many South Africans and immigrants from the U.S.A. bring on Aliyah with them.
Purchasing a Phone
Purchasing a phone from the cellphone carriers, in Israel, is expensive and you can get them cheaper from private stores around the country or online for as little as $80. They may go by different brand names but they all basically do the same thing and their is no problem with the apps. There is no longer import duty on personal imports valued below US$400.
Do some thorough homework before you commit to a buying a phone in Israel and being tied into a 36 month purchase contract.
Many carriers now offer plans with no contract although you would need to continue to pay off a phone if you purchased it through them. You can switch to a different carrier at any time, or if you are in a contract, there may be a buyout fee which is generally very low. So it is worthwhile to explore your options even if you are in the midst of a contract.
Before Changing Carriers
Our Top Tip: Before you take the final step and change over from your existing carrier to another one, we suggest that you contact your existing carrier, tell them with a firm voice, that you are planning to leave and ask if they can offer you a plan comparable to the one you are considering from the new carrier.
Tricks & Scams
A recently discovered scam:- As soon as you answer the phone, the other party hangs up. Out of curiosity you call back and find yourself listening to a recording - some special offer or incentive. In reality, there is no special offer and these calls are billed at top-dollar rates. Reports of billing at 160 shekels per minute and even as high as 5,132 shekels (!!!!!!!!!) per minute.
Jonathan Maltz developed a site called IsraelCellCompare. He has done a thorough comparison of the various cellphone carriers and the mobile phone plans currently on offer which you can access on his website.
Other Translated Bills