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.