Some 3 Million Israelis Without Cell Phone Service

Israeli news outlets are reporting that customers of Cellcom, the country's largest cell phone company, have been unable to make or receive calls since Wednesday morning 1000 local time. SMS service also is reported as being affected. 

A report by Globes says that Cellcom CEO Amos Shapira does not know when the problem will be fixed.

"Will the breakdown last days or hours? I hope not more than hours, but I really do not know."

The Globes quotes CEO Shapira as saying at a press conference Wednesday evening that:

"Since this morning, Cellcom's network has experienced the worst breakdown we have had since the company was founded. Many of our customers are experiencing substantial difficulty in making and receiving calls. We apologize for the fact that we are unable to provide you, our customers, with our regular service."

CEO Shapira went on to say that the company was working with Nokia engineers to try to fix the problem, which was characterized as being a fault "in the core of the network." 

The outage is likely keenly felt, since Israelis are one of the biggest users of mobile phones, with 1.38 cell phones per capita, according to Haaretz.com.  And with today being the start of Chanukah, the outage doubling annoying to Cellcom's customers. 

Update (02 Dec 2010): According to this story in today's Globes, Cellcom's network problems were fixed as of 2132 last night.  SMS service which was partially disrupted was also fixed.

Already there are calls for a government investigation into the incident, which affected nearly half of the Israeli population. At least two lawsuits have been also filed against the company. Cellcom's response to the lawsuits can be found here.

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