Iraq mobile licenses awarded

The names of the three companies that will be allowed to operate mobile services in Iraq have finally been announced.

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By  David Ingham Published  October 6, 2003

AsiaCell, Orascom Telecom and AtheerTel have been awarded the licenses to operate mobile telephone services in Iraq. All three companies will utilise GSM technology, in line with the rest of the Middle East.

"This is an important day for Iraq," Iraq's Communications Minister Haider, Jawad Al Aubadi, was quoted as saying. "Iraq badly needs the mobile system to enhance the security of the country."

AsiaCell (in which Kuwait's Wataniya is a shareholder) receives a license to operate in the North, Orascom will start out in the Central region and AtheerTel (in which Kuwait's MTC is a shareholder) has secured the rights to operate in the South.

Wataniya and MTC are familiar names to followers of the region's telecomms sector, but Orascom may be seen as a surprise winner. The company has recently been busy selling off assets in a bid to emerge from near bankruptcy.

The licenses are initially valid for two years. The companies will be allowed to roll out services across the country if they meet certain criteria, which should eventually lead to three competing nationwide operators.

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