By John Lee.
IQ Networks, a wholesale internet provider based in Sulaymaniya, expects to open a $100-million (120-billion-Iraqi-dinar) broadband cable from Turkey to Iraq’s Gulf coast by the end of this year.
Reuters reports that, after spending an extra $30 million to replace lines and equipment overrun by Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL), the company aims to carry international traffic through Iraq to link Asia and Europe, boosting Iraq’s hopes of becoming an international hub for Internet traffic.
IQ Networks will be granted a 15-year renewable licence to operate the network, but will hand ownership of the cable outside of Kurdistan to the state-owned Iraq Telecommunications and Post Company (ITPC), and will pay 26 percent of all revenue to the government.
Martin Frank, chief executive of IQ Networks, told Reuters:
“This will be the first privately built and privately run network of this kind outside of Kurdistan.
“We’re expecting large parts of the above-ground infrastructure – shelters, generators, power equipment and transmission equipment – to have been stolen or destroyed, but large parts of the underground infrastructure – ducts and fiber cables – (should) be okay.”
The company began to build the transit-only fibre network in 2010, but the project was awarded to another company in 2011, before that decision was reversed in 2013.
The network follows Iraq’s main oil and gas pipeline, and was nearing launch before ISIS captured areas through which the cable travelled in North and West Iraq.
As a result, IQ has had to lay an extra 1,000 kms (620 miles) of fibre to re-route the network further east.
According to the Reuters report, Iraq relies heavily on Kurdistan for internet connectivity after Baghdad’s insistence on state control of fixed infrastructure within its jurisdiction stifled development and detered private investors.
The government also segregates networks carrying transit and locally-destined traffic, meaning that the new network cannot carry data to or from Iraqi domestic users, and therefore will do nothing to reduce Iraq’s Internet costs.
Outside of Kurdistan a one megabit per second (mbps) broadband connection costs $399 per month versus $6.17 in Iran.