Inmarsat hits the right notes for Baghdad café

Citizens in Baghdad can surf the web at an internet café, thanks to the work of two electrical engineers who are using a Regional BGAN satellite modem from Inmarsat to provide internet access.

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By  Peter Branton Published  July 30, 2003

Citizens in Baghdad can surf the web at an internet café, thanks to the work of two electrical engineers who are using a Regional BGAN satellite modem from Inmarsat to provide internet access.

Ahmed Gholami and Samer Istifo, along with another friend, have established the Al Zakira café to help Iraqi people get in touch with relatives and friends living outside the country. “Our project was not commercial. Our goal was to help Iraqis after what they endured during the tough war,” said Istifo. The modem was brought from Jordan, sent to Istifo by relatives living abroad.

“In addition to that we wanted to be the first to provide this service after the war, in particular when the government provider which provides internet, email services to the Iraqi subscribers, stopped during the war,” added Gholami.

The Inmarsat service can be used in 99 countries across the Middle East, North Africa and parts of Europe. It was intended to help people in remote areas, or areas otherwise lacking reliable terrestrial communications infrastructure to access the internet. By connecting a PC or laptop to the satellite modem, users can send and receive data at speeds of up to 144kbits a second via a secure shared channel.

In addition, Istifo is providing phone services via satellite using Inmarsat’s min-M system. Istifo and Gholami said they “can’t wait” to contribute to the Iraqi construction operation.

This week Batelco was forced to stop providing mobile phone services in Iraq by the US-led occupation authority. A tender will be held for three regional mobile phone licences. Under Saddam Hussein’s regime, mobile phones were banned for all but a select few.

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