By John Lee.
Ahmed Alomary, a former commissioner at the Communications and Media Commission (CMC), told Reuters that Iraq plans to auction third-generation (3G) telecommunications licences for a minimum of $307 million each.
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.
An open auction could potentially allow new entrants into Iraq's telecommunications sector, although the prospect of building out a network from scratch in crisis-torn Iraq may limit interest, and the process could slow the introduction of 3G services.
The government source said no time frame had been set for the auction, adding "I doubt it will happen this year."
Iraq's fixed-line network is limited; the country had 300,000 fixed-line broadband subscribers and 1.9 million landlines in 2013, according to Sydney-based telecommunications consultancy BuddeComm.