Israel had a small mobile telecom revolution in 2012. The market was dominated by three large operators: Pelephone, Cellcom, and Orange with a few MVNOs like Rami Levy. Two newcomers: Golan Telecom and Hot Mobile shifted the market to low cost unlimited plans with rolling (30 days) contract. You can now get unlimited data, voice and SMS including calls to cells in the US and Canada from anywhere between 49 NIS to 99 NIS. There is an initial fee for the SIM card, but it is the best option for visitors to Israel at the moment. Just join at the beginning of the trip and cancel the plan at no cost when leaving. The cost is even proportional to how long you use it.
It should be noted that unfortunately, these options are open only to Israeli citizens (or permanent residents, or other holders of government-issued Israeli ID card) provided that they pay with an Israeli-issued credit card. In addition, Hot Mobile physical presence is very limited, and Golan does not have physical presence at all, although you can buy the SIM card at many gas stations and convenience stores and register it through their website (come prepared with your Israeli ID number). At this time, these factors (sadly) don't allow for recommending them as best options for all travellers.
Update (June 2013): non-Israeli citizens / foreigners are now able to register with Golan with a foreign-issued credit cards, non Israeli identification.
YouPhone is a MVNO that uses the GSM/UMTS network of Orange which offers a prepaid plans: a sim card costs 49 ILS and comes loaded with 150 units (minutes inside israel/sms/megabytes). A 1GB data allowence for 30 days costs 39 ILS. There are many places where you can buy the sim/load up the card - Mega supermarkets, AMPM supermarkets, many post offices, Alonit convinience stores in Dor-Alon gas stations.
Israel Phone RentalsEdit
A good option for those who do not have or do not want to bring thier own phone is a company called Israel Phone Rentals. Offering a one price covers all (including lost and stolen phones) it is a this moment the best option for the on the go traveler. Cost is $7 a day for unlimited calls and texts in Israel and free calling to the USA and a numerous other countries. On top of this you also recieve a brand new smart phone at no additional cost and it even includes accidental damage and stolen phone insuarance. Discounts are available for large groups.
Initially SIMs for Golan were only available through their website (golantelecom.co.il) but they can now be obtained in most malls in "BUG" computer stores. Unlimited everything with 3G and free international calls (Cell to the US and Canada, landlines to some 50 other countries) is 59 NIS per month for the first 6 month and 99 NIS afterwards. The SIM costs 49 NIS and there is rolling (30-days) contract (you pay with credit card until you decide to cancel). Alternatively there is a 9.99 NIS plan that has 60min voice, unlimited SMS and 10MB data, and afterwards your credit card is charged according to the usage (e.g. 0.09 NIS / mb). The 49 NIS registration fee applies here as well.
Hot Mobile has UMTS/2100 and 850/2100 UMTS network of Pelephone
"You didn't talk, you did not pay" plan (no monthly fee). You must have a credit card.
- Sim card: 39NIS
- Top up fee: no top up, not pre-paid.
- Call price: 0.13NIS
- SMS: 0.13NIS
- Data: 0.13NIS / MB
Alternatively, there is a plan similar to Golan's available at their stands in malls all over Israel.
Pay-as-you-go plan is called BigTalk.
99 NIS with no credit if bought directly from Orange retail outlets.
50 NIS including 40 NIS credit if bought at any participating post office. There's a post office on the upper floor of Terminal 3 in Ben-Gurion International airport where most flights to Israel land. This sim card can also be bought from the English site of the Israel post (http://www.israelpost.co.il/mall.nsf/prodsbycode/175?opendocument&L=EN), the shipping cost is less than 10.5 NIS worldwide.
It's best to add money to your account using cash or card in person at a post office or phone shop, recharging with a credit card via the phone is only possible for Israeli residents as you need an Israeli ID card number. There is a 7NIS service charge added to the cost of every top up.
Default data rateEdit
Using data without a plan: 4 NIS/MB.
Data feature packsEdit
The packages below are monthly and renew automatically if you have enough credit in your account (they can be cancelled once you stop using them via the *4555 automated menu or by speaking with a customer service rep on *111 - beware, purchased packages stop working immediately upon cancellation).
On all packages, data usage outside the package limits costs 4NIS per MB.
- No package: 250KB for Orange portal, None for Internet.
- 100MB for 27.17 NIS
- 1GB for 59 NIS
- 3GB for 79 NIS
- "Unlimited" (15GB fair use) for 149 NIS
Prices taken from: http://www.orange.co.il/en/en/Mobile/Packages-and-Offers/data_packages1/
Please note only the 100MB package can be bought using credit already loaded onto your account (via the *4555 number) the 1GB, 3GB and "Unlimited" packages must be added by the purchase of a physical internet card or by asking for the package when you load more money onto the account. This prevents you from buying the larger packages with "bonus credit"
Orange bigtalk cardsEdit
Orange sell a range of cards which offer time limited extra benefits to the user. (e.g The 50 NIS unlimited card offers unlimited phone calls within Israel and 200MB of internet usage, valid for 7 days). Full details of all the cards are available here on the orange website.
APN Details: APN: uinternet, No username/password.
Orange is the best choice for international travellers because they have low rates to several countries via a special access number. For example:
- US and Canada: 0.29 NIS (dial *313 and follow the prompts, you must dial the full international number, eg for USA 00 - 1 - area code - number)
- France landline / mobile: 0.33 /0.59 NIS (*337 and *336 respectively)
More information and other countries can be found here:
Cellcom operates UMTS/HSDPA, GSM/GPRS/EDGE and TDMA networks. Cellcom supports iPhone, Android and Blackberry, and as a matter of fact sells iPhone 3Gs, HTC Legend with Android 2.1, and Blackberry Bold 9700 (http://www.cellcom.co.il/shop/phones/search_results/pages/default.aspx?features=a9094f6b-15e3-4d72-b454-695a5e435f9f).
Cellcom's pre-paid plan is called TalkMan.
Calls within the Cellcom network on peak times (Sun - Fri, 6 am to 6 pm) 1.15 NIS / minute
Calls outside the Cellcom network on peak times: 1.19 NIS / minute
Calls everywhere on off-peak times: 1.19 NIS / minute.
Data feature packsEdit
Monthly unlimited UMTS for 149 NIS.
Pelephone used to be a CDMA network and is now a hybrid CDMA / UMTS network. This means only phones supporting the 850 *and* 2100MHz frequency could use it, and it has no GSM (i.e. non-3G) coverage. iPhone 4/3G/3Gs, Samsung Galaxy S and Blackberry models are reported to work with Pelephone and in fact are sold by the company (see http://www.pelephone.co.il//web/3g/corporate/catalog/catalogues/devicecatalog/.aspx). All devices from Apple and most Android handsets are compatible as long as the device is SIM-unlocked and uses a sim card. Check your phone to make sure it supports the frequencies mentioned, and take into consideration that voice calls use 3G (i.e. with 3G turned off, no calls can be made).
Pelephone claims to be the best network for the iPhone 3gs and iPhone 4. They claim that with the iPhone 3G data plan you can reach download speeds of up to 7.2MBPS. They proudly advertise the 7.2mbps speed with the GSM+ sim but it has not yet been confirmed. The GSM+ sim is 149 NIS for the initial fees and prepaid monthly data plans.
Pelephone offers both 3G sim and Micro Sim for iPhone 4 users. The micro-SIM is sold with their iPhone 4.
Pelephone's pay-as-you-go plan is called Talk & Go.
Call prices are 0.49 NIS / minute for all destinations.
Data feature packsEdit
3NIS for the first 10 MB of the day. Afterwards, 2NIS / 1MB with a maximum daily charge of 49 NIS for Internet usage. Pelephone has data-only plans that can be purchased by calling the customer service (*900):
- 60NIS / 3GB for 14 days.
Rami-Levy started on 5th December 2011 and is the first MVNO in Israel. As a MVNO it is using the CDMA / UMTS network of Pelephone (please refer to the Pelephone section to find out about the 850 *and* 2100MHz frequencies).
Rami-Levy is a supermarket and can be found in suburban shopping areas.
- Sim card: 39.9NIS
- Monthly fee: 4.90NIS
- Call price: 0.39NIS
- SMS: 0.29NIS
- Data: 0.29NIS / MB
Data feature packsEdit
- Data 5Gb: 59NIS
- Data 10Gb: 89NIS
Home Cellular is a MVNO that uses the GSM/UMTS network of Cellcom.
Home Celluar (or h-mobile) is a brand of Home Center, a DIY store chain that can be found in suburban shopping areas.
- Sim card: 29NIS
- Top up fee: 5NIS. There is no top up fee for paying with credit card.
- Call price: 0.39NIS
- SMS: 0.39NIS
- Data: 0.50NIS / MB
YouPhone is a MVNO that uses the GSM/UMTS network of Orange.
012 Mobile is a MVNO that uses the GSM/UMTS network of Orange.