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Cellular Phone Craze Hits Israel As Consumers Line Up for the Call

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Israel’s second cellular phone company, Cellcom, entered the market this week as thousand of Israeli consumers descended upon the company’s four stores in the Tel Aviv area.

They were eager to realize Communication Minister Shulamit Aloni’s promise of “a (cellular) phone for every worker.”

However, hundreds of people went home empty-handed because stores were unable to meet the demand. At one branch, police were called in when a scuffle broke out among aggravated would-be phone owners.

Cellcom’s entrance to the cellular phone market broke the monopoly previously held by Pelephone. Its service charges are significantly cheaper than those of Pelephone.

Meanwhile, lines were forming outside Cellcom stores the night before the Tuesday opening. Even if many of those waiting had lived just fine without a cellular phone until then, it suddenly seemed imperative to get the phone on opening day.

“The truth is that I have to get the phone today,” one young businessman told the Hebrew daily Maariv. “Tomorrow I’ll be outside the office, and I have to make a lot of overseas calls.”

Of course, “everybody else on line is crazy,” he added. “Why do they have to stand on line for hours? Can’t they wait a week?”

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