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

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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Korek Upgrades Network in Southern Iraq

Korek Telecom customers in southern Iraq will soon experience high-speed mobile broadband and better voice call services with improved coverage.

For this, Korek Telecom, a leading telecom operator in Iraq, has selected Nokia Siemens Networks to deploy its advanced radio, microwave transmission and packet core network elements, using its comprehensive services. The operator has also renewed its care and managed services contract with the company.

“We wanted to provide better internet experience and improved voice call services for our customers in Iraq,” said Ghada Gebara (pictured), Chief Executive Officer, Korek Telecom. “To achieve this, we needed a globally renowned technology partner, so we selected Nokia Siemens Networks. With Nokia Siemens Networks’ advanced radio and core network technology, we will soon be able to introduce high-speed mobile broadband and enhanced voice services to our customers in southern Iraq.”

“To fulfill the needs of Korek Telecom which is growing fast in the Iraqi telecom market, we are committed to providing strong technology support to the operator,” said Mikko Ylä-Kauttu, head of customer team Korek Telecom at Nokia Siemens Networks.

“Our radio and core network will ensure more throughput, improved coverage and higher quality to help Korek Telecom satisfy existing customers and attract new ones. In addition, our comprehensive services will ensure the rollout is fast and efficient, with everything working seamlessly.”

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Minister of Communications meets Chinese Telcos

By John Lee.

The Acting Minister of Communications, Torhan al-Mufti [Torhan Mudher Hassan AL-Mufti] (pictured), has held a meeting with representatives of the Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE.

According to a report from AIN, they discussed cooperation between Iraq and the Chinese companies.

The Director General of the General Company of Communication and Post, Salih Hassan, said that “The Ministry of Communications is cooperative with the Chinese companies since it offered modern and progressed methods and we will continue contracting with these companies hoping for the best.”

(Source: AIN)

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FastIraq Selects Epsilon for Iraq to Europe Connectivity

Epsilon Telecommunications, the world’s largest global telecoms network exchange, has been selected by Iraqi network operator FastIraq to provide international connectivity and local access to enterprise locations globally.

This extends FastIraq’s network reach to new destinations and allows it to leverage interconnects with Epsilon’s more than 450 preconnected carriers. Epsilon will provide local access from sites in Iraq to buildings in London and Frankfurt as well as international private leased circuits via its global platform.

By outsourcing both last mile access through Epsilon’s Enterprise Connect solution as well as connectivity to and between major datacentre hubs, FastIraq is simplifying its international capacity procurement processes and streamlining access to last mile connectivity. This removes the need for FastIraq to secure its own agreements with multiple network operators and has the added flexibility and capability to extend its network to more than 170 countries where Epsilon has local agreements in place.

Iraq has seen rapid development in its telecommunications sector. Between 2010 and 2012, there has been exponential growth in Internet users and our work with FastIraq is helping to feed this demand,” says Irwin Fouwels, Chief Commercial Officer at Epsilon Telecommunications. “FastIraq has been able to leverage Epsilon’s pre-existing relationships so it can focus on delivering services in the local market without having to take costly steps to put agreements in place in individual markets around the globe. It can focus on developing its business in Iraq while Epsilon delivers the connectivity it needs to in-demand destinations for Iraqi business, government and Internet users.

As Epsilon manages FastIraq’s international gateway it will function as an extension of the Epsilon network in Iraq. FastIraq has the ability to provide local access termination for Epsilon within a notoriously hard to reach country, opening up the local market to those utilising the Epsilon exchange.

Epsilon is able to deliver a solution that is agile, efficient and overall delivers the connectivity we need to serve our customers and grow our business. It is an exciting time for development in Iraq with oil and gas, and government sectors requiring robust telecoms infrastructure both locally and globally and in working with Epsilon we can deliver the services they need,” says Timothy Moore, CEO at FastIraq.

(Source: Press Release)

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Menara Networks Selected for Iraq

Menara Networks, a vertically integrated provider of IP/Ethernet DWDM transport solutions that greatly simplify optical networking, announced on Friday that IQ Networks, a leading facility-based fiber Internet Service Provider in Iraq, has selected Menara Networks transponder-less DWDM solution to build a state-of-the-art national 10 Gbps IP over DWDM network in Iraq.

IQ Networks will use Menara Networks award winning and patented “System-in-a-Module” Tunable OTN XFP transceivers for complete DWDM transponder replacement thus saving cost, space, and power consumption. Menara’s small form factor MSA compliant pluggable modules offer complete high performance optical networking functions including integrated ITU-T G.709 OTU-2 framing, OTN alarms and performance monitoring processing, Forward Error Correction for OSNR gain, automatic receiver threshold adaptation and SBS suppression for up to 2,000 km transmission.

“IQ Networks is building a state of the art, purpose-built IP/MPLS network in Iraq and the region. We were looking for an architecture that not only simplifies our operations but also one that places our IP/MPLS nodes at the center of the network rather than a client to the transmission layer,” observes Martin, IQ Networks CEO. “We have diligently evaluated all the DWDM options available in the market place today and concluded that Menara’s innovative OTN “System-in-a-Module” provide all the necessary performance and management capabilities without burdening our network with the high cost, foot-print and power consumption that plague the transponder based architecture.”

“We are happy to work with IQ Networks to bring high performance broadband services to the Iraqi people,” comments Siraj ElAhmadi, CEO and Co-Founder of Menara Networks. “Menara continues to help service providers everywhere to take significant cost out of their DWDM network and bridge the gap between the exploding network capital expenditures and the eroding revenue margins.”

(Source: MarketWatch)

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