Tag Archive | "Telecommunications"

The latest Iraq Telecommunications News – mobile phones, Iraqi Communications and more – brought to you by Iraq Business News

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%

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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$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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Mobile Miracles – Educational Vision

Madeleine White is a capacity building specialist and Editor-in-Chief of nina-iraq.com

In the last few weeks Nina has run three major interviews. We have spoken to Iraqi civil society leader and global Vital Voices winner Suaad Allami, women’s rights activist and MP Mayson Damaluji as well as Kurdish politician and business leader Parwen Babaker. All three have cited education, linked to inward investment, as being crucial if the current situation in Iraq is to be combatted – and eventually consigned to the distant pages of history.

All wanted to promote business as usual with good education and linked training opportunities for all complementing the region’s natural resources. Today however, a report issued by Al Fanar (regional higher education dossier) highlights that higher education is becoming nigh on impossible to access in Northern Iraq, announcing that IS has shut down 8 universities.

There is obviously no short term, easy answer but I do want to present a perspective, based on my belief that educational technology coupled with the scalability and accessibility of the internet can transform lives.  Good content when coupled with satellite broadband can be especially powerful when access to formal educational opportunities are denied; as even the most remote rural or conflict areas can be reached. With the regional challenges being what they are at the moment, putting in place a way to ensure uninterrupted access to education and training might prove to be game-changing in the medium to longer term.

The 2013 the Arab States Mobile Observatory Report issued by GSM Association (representing all mobile operators) suggests that by 2025 spectrum release broadband penetration in Iraq would lead to an increase of +9.5 million in mobile connections which in turn would  lead to  4.8% GDP growth. This translates to +US $10.5 billion with an estimated job creation figure of +727,400. Currently mobile penetration in Iraq stands at around 85%.

These figures complement a growing body of expert studies that create a break-down of how mobile telephony impacts economic growth and productivity. Many development economists have come to recognise mobile as a core means by which societies and economies can transform and grow. Mobile phones in the region are evolving from simple communication tools into service delivery platforms. But how much more important is this virtual reach in nation building when mainstream access is threatened or has been removed?

Studies show that good quality educational content, delivered in a way that is non-discriminatory (independent of gender religion race etc.) creates an environment that fosters collaboration and growth; linked to the reach of mobile broadband as described above the benefits can be significant. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) have long been an understood supplement to – or even alternative to traditional methods at higher education level.

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Asiacell Sales Decline

By John Lee.

Mobile operator Asiacell has posted an 8 percent drop in sales in the first half of 2014, due to the security situation and increased competition.

In its first half results its parent company, the Qatar-based Ooredoo, made the following statement:

Asiacell faced a growing wave of political and social instability during the period, allied to the effects of an increasingly competitive market.

“Consequently, revenue for the first half of 2014 was QAR 3,220 million (1H 2013: QAR 3,502 million), a decrease of 8%; EBITDA was down by 17% to QAR 1,544 million and EBITDA margin was also down to 48% from 53%.

“Asiacell focused on a number of cost efficiencies during the period in the face of growing competition whilst continuing its roll-out programme of network modernisation to ensure Asiacell customers continue to benefit from Iraq’s best and most reliable network.

“Consequently, Asiacell’scustomer base grew by 10.6% to 11.6 million compared to the first half of 2013. In response to the political and social situation in the country, Asiacell is monitoring 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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Zain Profits Up on Gains in Iraq, Kuwait

By John Lee.

Kuwait-based Zain reported an 8 percent rise in first-quarter profit on Monday, as earnings from Iraq and its domestic business rose. According to the company’s report:

Zain Iraq … performed exceptionally well in the first quarter of 2014 with revenues of US$432.3 million, EBITDA of US$167.8 million and net income of US$78.3 million reflecting Y-o-Y growth of 3%, 3% and 24% respectively compared to Q1-2013.

“The operation performed remarkably well and we expect Zain Iraq to be one of the Group’s major growth drivers in all facets of the business during the course of the year. The 18% growth in customer numbers Y-o-Y to reach 16 million bodes well for the on-going development of the company given the imminent granting of 3G spectrum this year.

“Zain Iraq is the largest contributor to Zain Group’s customer base with 35% of all customers and Zain Iraq’s revenues represents 40% of total Group consolidated revenues.

Referring to the business as a whole, Zain Group CEO Scott Gegenheimer (pictured) noted:

Across many of our markets, we are witnessing growth in key financial indicators as we drive efficiency and innovation.

“The healthy 27% annual growth rate in data revenues with data now reflecting 15% of all Zain Group’s service revenues, emphasizes the appeal and quality of our product and service offerings and justifies the huge investment we continue to make in our 3G and 4G networks.

(Sources: Zain, Reuters)

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France’s Orange sees Huge Growth in Iraq

By John Lee.

French-based telecommunications company Orange has said that it expects rapid customer and revenue growth in Iraq, where it took a 20 percent stake in mobile operator Korek two years ago.

Marc Rennard (pictured), the company’s executive vice president for Africa, the Middle East and Asia, told Reuters:

We have just reached five million customers two weeks ago (in Iraq), so business is booming and we are now working on the next step that will be the 3G licence … It depends on the government and regulatory authorities but we hope it will be beginning of 2014 …

“We don’t want to publish our objectives for next year or the year after, but there is still room for huge growth in Iraq in terms of number of customers and also in terms of revenues  …

“In Iraq two years ago it was less than 2 million customers, so we got this dramatic increase from the south and part of it from the north …

“In the future, if you project 10 years it will be probably one of the most important countries in the Orange group. It will be close to Egypt.

Mobile telephone penetration is relatively high at around 78 percent of Iraq’s population of 33 million, but only about 2 percent has access to broadband, analysts say.

(Source: Reuters)

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Ericsson Partners with Tishknet

Ericsson has partnered with Iraq’s leading internet and communications provider, Tishknet, to deploy the first LTE TDD network in the country.

The agreement includes the latest LTE technology with the Ericsson RBS 6000 family of base stations. Also included is Ericsson’s Evolved Packet Core network, with Evolved Packet Gateway on the SSR 8000 family of Smart Services Routers. The services will be launched in the northeastern Kurdistan region, providing an enhanced end user experience and high-speed internet connections to customers.

Customers in Iraqi Kurdistan, a strong business center for the international energy industry, will be able to access larger amounts of data efficiency through what is regarded as the most advanced ICT technology available to operators today.

Firia Ali, Chief Executive Officer at Tishknet said:

We have pioneered forward thinking technology in Iraq since 2011. Our customers’ needs are evolving rapidly and LTE provides them with access to innovative broadband services. The Kurdistan region is one of the country’s most active business hubs and we hope to roll out the service across other regions in the near future.

Tishknet is a new customer to Ericsson and both companies will work together to establish a long term plan for LTE across Iraq.

Tarek Saadi, President of Ericsson’s North Middle East Unit says:

The power and success of LTE globally has highlighted the increasing need by the consumer for quick information access. The launch of LTE in Iraq is an indication of the country’s ICT sector growth and fast development. We will be working closely with Tishknet to further strengthen our relationship and optimize the benefits of LTE deployment across the country.

4G/LTE is the fastest developing system in the history of mobile communication. LTE offers the capacity and the speed to handle a rapid increase in data traffic. According to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report, there will be 7 billion mobile broadband subscriptions in 2018. 60% of the world’s population will have LTE coverage by 2018, which is remarkable growth since its initial launch at the end of 2009. Ericsson has delivered more than 160 LTE/EPC networks worldwide, of which more than 90 have gone live commercially, and has signed contracts with nine of the top ten ranked operators by global revenue 2012.

(Source: Ericsson)

[Picture: Tarek Saadi (left), President of Ericsson North Middle East and Firia Ali, Chief Executive Officer at Tishknet]

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