Telecoms/Comms

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

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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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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Asiacell Revenues Down 10%

Asiacell Revenues Down 10%

By John Lee.

In its results for the first nine months of 2014, Qatari telecom provider Ooredoo has reported that revenues at its Iraqi unit Asiacell are down 10 percent.

The company gave the following update on operations in Iraq:

Asiacell continued to face the challenge of political and social instability during the period, allied to the effects of an increasingly competitive market.

“Consequently, revenue for the nine months of 2014 was QAR 4,804 million (9M 2013: QAR 5,309 million), a decrease of 10%; EBITDA was down by 19% to QAR 2,272 million and EBITDA margin was also down to 47% from 53%. Customer numbers increased by 16% to 12.3 million.

“Growing levels of insecurity have impacted corporate and data revenue moderately. Asiacell has continued to focus on a number of cost efficiencies during the period in the face of growing competition. Asiacell continues to monitor the situation carefully and has a range of contingency plans in place to ensure the continued operation of the business.”

(Source: Ooredoo)

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Corruption Plagues Iraqi TV, Film Industry

Corruption Plagues Iraqi TV, Film Industry

By Shukur Khilkhal for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Each year, Arab TV stations compete to buy and broadcast dramatic productions from Egypt, Syria and Gulf counties. Yet, there is no demand for Iraqi drama, which is limited to local TV channels.

It is a bitter reality for the Iraqi TV and film industry, over which concerned parties are in constant disagreement.

The dilemma is complex enough to make it hard to determine the exact problem. The industry’s players blame each other for its deterioration and loss of identity, and the issue has been widely discussed in the media.

Some actors blame the producers and writers, while the writers hold the producers responsible and others blame the film directors. As for the directors, they distance themselves from this responsibility, and believe that the rest of the key parties in the TV and film industry should be held responsible for its deterioration.

During a seminar on the condition of Iraqi drama held in Damascus March 20, 2010, film director Hassan Hosni identified six reasons for the deterioration of Iraqi TV and film production that did not include directing.

Although everyone agrees that poor production is a major problem, the Al-Iraqiya TV channel, the biggest producer of Iraqi drama, seems indifferent to what is being said. In fact, it celebrates what has been achieved so far.

A number of major artists have found themselves forced to withdraw from the scene in protest, to boycott the current industry. Others preferred to emigrate and some prominent screenwriters, such as Farooq Mohammed, Hamed al-Maliki and Ahmed Hatef, stopped writing. Maliki told Al-Monitor that he has been living off his personal savings since he made this decision.

These figures’ withdrawal from the scene is not contributing to resolving the problem, but may instead exacerbate it by leaving only beginners and inexperienced people.

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$307m Bill for 3G Spectrum

$307m Bill for 3G Spectrum

By John Lee.

Iraq is reportedly seeking $307 million [358 billion Iraqi dinars] from each of the country’s three mobile phone operators for spectrum to run 3G (third-generation) services.

According to Reuters, all three operators – Zain Iraq (owned by Kuwait’s Zain), Asiacell (owned by Ooredoo) and Korek (Orange) – paid $1.25 billion each for so-called “technology-neutral” mobile licences in 2007, which means they do not require new 3G licences, but they need extra radio spectrum, or frequencies, to launch the technology.

The firms are said to be angry at the request, as the fees would only provide frequencies for the remaining eight years of their licences, and also considering that their operating costs have risen due to the fighting in the country. There would be considerable additional expenses in building a 3G network.

The operators have asked to meet with the regulator, the Communications and Media Commission (CMC), to discuss the matter.

(Source: Reuters)

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Ericsson Still Bullish on Iraq

Ericsson Still Bullish on Iraq

By John Lee.

Tarek Saadi, President of Ericsson‘s North Middle East Region, has said his company remains bullish on Iraq despite the threat of terrorism.

Speaking on the sidelines of a trade event, he said:

Iraq is one of the more important markets for Ericsson in the Middle East … We still believe in the long terms prospects of the country.

“We believe 3G [will] be a long term revenue driver to the operators and to Ericsson.”

 According to the report from Gulf News, he did however admit that his “very bullish” outlook for the country had been moderated.

The company works with all three operators in Iraq — Asiacell, Korek and Zain, with which it has a network management contract — and Saadi says its operations have not been largely affected by the increasing instability in the country.

(Source: Gulf News)

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Vizocom Wins $5m Embassy Contract

Vizocom Wins $5m Embassy Contract

By John Lee.

The General Services Office at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has awarded an Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract worth nearly $5.2 million [6.1 billion Iraqi dinars] to VIZOCOM.

The contract is for the provision of “Satellite Television Channel Broadcasting, Reception and Transmission Services at the U.S. American Embassy Baghdad, the U.S. American Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center, the U.S. American Consulate General Basrah, and the U.S. American Consulate General Erbil“.

A statement from the US State Department said that VIZOCOM’s was the lowest price, technically acceptable offer.

(Source: US State Dept)

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