Telecoms/Comms

The latest Iraqi news on developments and opportunities in communications and media from Iraq Business News

PM Drops Lawsuits Against Journalists

PM Drops Lawsuits Against Journalists

By John Lee.

Prime Minister Haider al- Abadi has ordered the dropping of all publishing lawsuits previously filed by his office against journalists and reporters.

In a statement, his office said:

This order comes out of the Prime Minister’s commitment to freedom of expression and support to the press as being the fourth power, which diagnoses and evaluates the government’s work.

“It also represents [the] PM’s desire that media takes a major role in constructing the country and building a public opinion that serves the orientations of citizens to live a decent life and enthusiasm for the unity, stability and sovereignty of Iraq.

“On this occasion, we call on media and journalists to manifest responsible expression and contribute effectively to straighten work toward building state institutions that the current government and the Prime Minister seek to achieve, and the media which we trust so much be the tool that contributes to attain our access to what we seek to our people.

(Source: Office of the Prime Minister)

Posted in Security, Telecoms/Comms2 Comments

Roadside Bankers Profit from Extremists

Roadside Bankers Profit from Extremists

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Roadside Bankers Profit From Extremists’ Mobile Phone Shutdown in Mosul

It has been around two weeks since the extremists running Mosul decided to cut off mobile phone coverage in the city. For some locals in the city the breakdown is about more than communication – some cannot access electronic social welfare payments and others are seeing their businesses crippled.

When the city of Mosul still used to hold its famous Spring Festival – a holiday instituted by former Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein – many locals used to gather in the more elevated Minassa area to see the festivities.

But now Mosul locals are gathering here for a completely different reason. Radwan Khaled, 53, a retired army officer, is one of them. He recalls being in about the same spot when he used to have to come here to salute Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, one of the Iraqi army’s top military commanders during Hussein’s regime. And he is still raising his hand – except today it’s because he’s trying to get a better connection for his mobile phone, hoping to find a network here.

It has been around two weeks since the extremist group known as the Islamic State, which took control of the city in early June this year, decided that mobile telecommunications should be cut off in Mosul. And Khaled and the other people with him, waving their phones around, have come here to try and access their government-paid pensions, salaries and other social welfare payments, which have been transferred electronically via Iraq’s Qi card system.

While the shutdown in telecommunications has had a big effect on many of the estimated 1.5 million people still living in Mosul, the first to really feel the effects were those paid by Qi card, an electronic banking system. Once the Qi card has registered that money is available in the holder’s account, they can get the cash from any outlet in the area that takes the card.

Happily for Khaled, getting up high with his phone allowed him to download the amount of pension he was owed. However the actual payment process turned out to be slower than he expected – supplies of cash money were running out in the city.

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Posted in Banking & Finance, Security, Telecoms/Comms0 Comments

Mosul Extremists Raid Homes, Arrest Journalists

Mosul Extremists Raid Homes, Arrest Journalists

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Stifling Dissent: Extremists in Mosul Raid Homes, Arrest Journalists

Instead of reporting the news from inside the extremist-controlled city of Mosul, local journalists recently became the subject of news reports. Members of the extremist group, the Islamic State, are trying to silence all dissenting voices coming out of the city and recently initiated a wave of media arrests.

In the middle of the night, Mosul-based journalist Ahmed Abu Reeta got a phone call warning him that he was likely to be arrested by fighters from the extremist group known as the Islamic State at any moment.

Back in early June, the extremist Islamic State group had taken over the northern city of Mosul and some of its surrounds and they had started targeting journalists immediately; even before the group’s takeover of the city, their forerunners and allies had also been threatening and murdering journalists.

Abu Reeta and his sister decided to leave their home at once and they fled through neighbouring properties rather than on the street. They were just in time, the Abu Reeta tells NIQASH. Only a few minutes later fighters from the Islamic State, or IS, group arrived, searching for him. They did not find him but despite his mother’s protestations they confiscated his car.

Later Abu Reeta found out that the visit from the IS fighters was actually part of a concerted city wide raid on members of the media in Mosul. That night 12 other journalists were arrested, blindfolded and taken away by the IS fighters.

This attack on members of the press is not the first of its kind in Mosul. When the group first took control of the city in June, they detained five journalists – the group included one female television presenter. Nobody knows what has happened to those people.

The IS group has also been quick to confiscate the property of anyone working for the media. One example was the seizure of the home belonging to Jamal al-Badrani, head of the Sharqiya television channel’s bureau in Mosul. Ten other members of the media suffered a similar fate.

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Posted in Security, Telecoms/Comms0 Comments

Why Mosul Extremists have Blocked All Telecoms

Why Mosul Extremists have Blocked All Telecoms

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Communication Shut Down: Why Extremists In Mosul Have Blocked All Telecommunications

The extremist group controlling Mosul in northern Iraq has decided to shut down most mobile telecommunications inside the city. Rumours are flying as to why. Have they done it because they can no longer profit from the phone companies in Mosul? Or is it because of an impending battle and they don’t want their positions revealed?

In a short statement broadcast on a local radio station, Al Zuhur, several days ago, a spokesman from the extremist group known as the Islamic State told listeners that work done by telecommunications companies in Mosul, the northern Iraqi city the group currently controls, has been suspended.

The statement didn’t give any reason as to why telecommunications companies would no longer be active in Mosul – fighters from the Islamic State, or IS, group had apparently sabotaged some of the cellphone towers. But nobody seems to know why and rumours are flying in the town.

Some say it’s because an external attack on the city – to liberate it from the IS group – is imminent and the group want to block communications. Others say it’s because telecommunications companies, which had always been rumoured to pay protection money to extremist groups in Mosul as well as rental to the building owners upon whose property they placed their towers, have stopped paying both fees.

A local telecommunications engineer who wanted to be identified only as Jaber says the cellphone towers were sabotaged for financial reasons. It’s become more difficult to get money in and out of the province of Ninawa since the IS group took over and the IS group hasn’t been able to collect money from the telecommunications companies, he alleges. It’s especially difficult to get money out of the comparatively safe region of Iraqi Kurdistan at the moment, after a recent car bomb attack.

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Posted in Security, Telecoms/Comms0 Comments

IS Cuts off Mobile Network in Mosul

By John Lee.

Islamic State militants have reportedly blocked all mobile phone networks in Mosul.

According to BasNews, an official at one of the mobile phone operators said his company was investigating the issue, but declined to give further details.

According to reports, shutting down of phone lines is a notable change from what has been the group’s core strategy so far – focusing on providing services and establishing administration in areas it controls to win support of the locals.

(Source: BasNews)

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Zain to Launch 3G by Jan

Zain to Launch 3G by Jan

By John Lee.

Zain Iraq is to launch its 3G mobile phone services in January.

Reuters reports that Zain, along with rivals Asiacell and Korek, eventually agreed to the government’s terms and formally signed the contracts at a ceremony in Baghdad on Monday attended by prime minister Haider al-Abadi.

Zain Iraq recently paid the first instalment fee amounting to $76.75 million (85.5 billion Iraqi dinars) representing 25 percent of the overall 3G spectrum fee of $307 million.

CEO Scott Gegenheimer (pictured) said in a statement:

Zain views the launch of 3G services in Iraq as a complete game-changer for the country …

“We have already invested heavily in making the network 3G ready and our target is to be commercially operational by January 2015.”

Zain hass commissioned Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia Networks to expand and upgrade the network.

(Source: Zain, Reuters)

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Iraq’s Media Cold War

Iraq’s Media Cold War

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraq’s Media Cold War: Why Arabs Don’t Understand Kurds, And Vice Versa

Although it has quite possibly never been more important, the potential for conflict and misunderstanding between Iraq’s Arab population and its Kurdish one remains high. Part of the reason for this is the lack of Arabic-language media in Iraqi Kurdistan and the lack of desire on the part of the Kurds to publish or broadcast in Arabic.

In the spring of 2014, Saleh al-Sughayer and his family holidayed in Erbil, capital city of the semi-autonomous northern region of Iraqi Kurdistan. He says that when he arrived he and his wife and children were surprised to find what they thought seemed like a whole other country.

They were equally surprised to see the Kurdish flag flying everywhere and to hardly see the Iraqi flag at all – despite the fact that, although Iraqi Kurdistan has its own military, government and judiciary, it is actually still part of Iraq.

Al-Sughayer and his family were not alone. A lot of Iraqi Arabs don’t know much, or enough, about their Iraqi Kurdish cousins in the north. The same may also be said of many Iraqi Kurdish when it comes to Arabs in the south. And all of it might partially be blamed on the media situation in Iraq.

Baghdad doesn’t pay a lot of mind to publishing news about what they do in Kurdish, which is closer to Persian than Arabic. There was a Kurdish language radio station in Baghdad broadcasting in the 1950s but this service faltered when tensions between the Kurdish and Arabs worsened in the 1960s and many of the Kurdish leaders fled into the mountains in northern Iraq.

So often the Iraqi Kurdish population don’t hear much about what’s going on in Baghdad outside of international media, the content of which is translated into Kurdish by Iraqi Kurdish media outlets.

Perhaps because they are the junior partner in the arrangement, the Iraqi Kurdish have been more interested in broadcasting their news in Arabic. The Al Hurriyah radio and television network was set up by one of Iraqi Kurdistan’s two biggest political parties, the PUK, or Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, in Baghdad in 2003 and it is still broadcasting today. The PUK and the region’s other major political party, the KDP, or Kurdistan Democratic Party, also publish two daily newspapers in Arabic.

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Posted in Politics, Telecoms/Comms0 Comments

Telcos Agree to Pay $307m for 3G

Telcos Agree to Pay $307m for 3G

By John Lee.

Reuters reports that Iraq’s mobile phone companies have agreed to demands from the country’s Communications and Media Commission (CMC) to pay $307 million each for radio spectrum to run 3G mobile phone networks.

Current 2G services are supplied by Zain Iraq (a unit of Kuwait’s Zain), Asiacell (a subsidiary of Ooredoo) and Orange affiliate Korek, who each paid $1.25 billion for their licences in 2007.

Revenue growth in the sector has stagnated in recent years, largely because the government delayed permission for the three national operators to launch 3G services.

But a senior source told Reuters that the companies have now agreed to this fee, and had made downpayments of $73 million in recent days, with the remainder to be paid in four installments over the next18 months.

(Source: Reuters)

(Phone image via Shutterstock)

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