Tag Archive | "Telecommunications"

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

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.

Posted in Banking & Finance, Security, Telecoms/CommsComments (0)

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.

Posted in Security, Telecoms/CommsComments (0)

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.

Posted in Blog, Education & Training, Madeleine WhiteComments Off

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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