Telecoms/Comms

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

Zain Iraq Launches “3.9G” Services

Zain Iraq Launches “3.9G” Services

By John Lee.

Zain Group has announces that its mobile operation in Iraq launched 3.9G voice and data services across the country on January 1, 2015.

The launch came following the finalization of an agreement with Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission (CMC) on November 10, 2014, which culminated in Zain Iraq making an initial 25% payment towards the overall 3G spectrum fee of US$307 million.

Zain Iraq marked the official launch of the 3.9G service with a video call on New Year’s Eve to the Iraqi Minister of Telecommunications, Hassan Al Rashid.

Three leading global technology solution providers, namely Ericsson, Huawei, and Nokia Networks were commissioned early in 2014 to expand and upgrade Zain Iraq’s network thus allowing the operator to quickly roll-out 3.9G commercial services across the country upon granting of the license.

Commenting on the significance of the 3.9G launch in Iraq, Zain Group CEO, Scott Gegenheimer (pictured) said:

“Today marks a new era of mobile telecommunications in Iraq as the introduction of high-speed mobile services will have an enormous impact on Iraq’s economic prosperity, enhancing local activity and act as a stimulus in attracting new investment into the country, further creating jobs and increasing national output.”

Zain Iraq Chief Operations Officer, Wael Ghanayem noted:

“Zain Iraq has invested heavily in expanding and upgrading the network and now customers in Iraq can enjoy and benefit from widespread 3.9G coverage. Given the country’s low broadband penetration rate of 15% and our solid customer base of over 13.3 million coupled with the rollout of new individual and corporate mobile services accompanying the high speed technology, we foresee significant growth in all our key financial metrics through the introduction of 3.9G in the country.”

(Source: Zain)

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Asiacell Launches 3G Service

Asiacell Launches 3G Service

By John Lee.

Asiacell has announced the launch of its third generation (3G) mobile phone services in Iraq.

Iraq has been underserved for far too long, it’s time to bring 21st century wireless service to this important economic hub in the world,” said Faruk Mustafa Rasool (pictured), Asiacell chairman.

Asiacell has spent more than $1bn on system modernization and 3G licenses for additional spectrum, a move that marks the huge investments the company is doing for better fit to the competitive telecom market in Iraq.

The company said its network has the capability to reach 4G/LTE speeds quickly as the telecommunications infrastructure in Iraq improves.

Amer Sunaa, Asiacell Chief Executive Officer, said:

“We are very excited to launch 3G in Iraq. With the benefits of 3G, subscribers in Iraq can enjoy a faster, better mobile experience than ever before. All our customers will celebrate 3G launch with tailored incredible offers designed for each and every one.”

(Source: Asiacell)

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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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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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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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