“The main story of telecommunications in Iraq continues to be mobile. Before the Iraq war of 2003 mobile telecoms did not exist in most of Iraq outside the Kurdish areas. In the six years since the launch of services in 2004, subscriber numbers have exploded to reach penetration levels higher than in neighbouring Syria or in Lebanon, at over 60%.
Four operators share the market but Zain of Kuwaitâ€™s subsidiary Zain Iraq has much the largest market share, with well over 50% of the market. Asiacell, which has Qtel of Qatar as a major shareholder, has just over a third of the market. Two small operators based in the Kurdish part of Iraq have the remainder, one of which, Korek, has a national licence but has yet to extend its reach much beyond the region.
Part of the reason for the booming mobile sector is the lack of any significant fixed-line market, with infrastructure almost non-existent outside of Baghdad. Fixed-line penetration levels are less than 5%.