Iraqi telecoms contracts awarded

US mobile equipment supplier Motorola has been handed a sizeable contract to provide a radio communications network to aid policing operations in Baghdad, while Kuwaiti operator MTC has reportedly secured a deal to supply mobile services in the south of the country.

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By  Richard Agnew Published  May 22, 2003

US mobile equipment supplier Motorola has been handed a sizeable contract to provide a radio network to aid policing operations in Baghdad, while Kuwaiti operator MTC has reportedly secured a deal to supply mobile services in the south of the country.

Motorola’s deal, which could reach up to US$25million, is geared towards restoring safety and security in the capital, which the US government says is its “number one priority.”

“The Motorola contract [will] re-establish a police radio network and is going to run between US$10million and US$25million, depending on the options that are exercised," said Lt. Col. Ken McClellan, an official spokesman for the US’ office of the secretary of defense.

MTC’s six-month contract, according to a report on AFP, is to supply services in southern areas, a move that was largely expected after the operator readied networking equipment during the conflict to extend coverage from its existing GSM network in Kuwait.

The deals will further short-term efforts to restore Iraq’s telecoms networks - seen as a key element in rebuilding the country, which has largely been left reliant on satellite phones for communications since the conflict broke out.

Last week, it also emerged that the US telco formerly known as Worldcom, MCI, was handed a US$45million deal to set up a GSM network in Baghdad to serve the interim government, humanitarian agencies, reconstruction workers and the military.

“[The MCI network] is going to be a dual mode system and they envisage servicing it to up to 10,000 phones. They’re installing the first towers this week and then they’re expecting full system capability by about July,” added McClellan.

US and Iraqi officials are also figuring out how to install trunking networks to link Baghdad with other areas and are working to restore Iraq’s fixed telephone lines.

It is expected, however, that long-term arrangements for telecoms services will be left up to the future Iraqi government, with the market remaining open to local companies and non-US vendors.

Mirroring the company’s involvement in providing mobile services in Afghanistan, MCI’s Baghdad network is expected to be eventually handed over to the future Iraqi government and then licensed to commercial service providers.

Spokespeople from MTC were unavailable to immediately confirm its deal.

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