Arab countries re-connect to Iraq

Direct phone calls between Iraq and member countries of the Arab Satellite Communication Organisation (Arabsat) are expected to re-start by the end of the year.

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By  Richard Agnew Published  November 17, 2004

Direct phone calls between Iraq and member countries of the Arab Satellite Communication Organisation (Arabsat) are expected to re-start by the end of the year. Technology Partners, a UAE-based telecoms consultancy, has been recruited to implement a new gateway connecting to the satellite group's network. It says it expects to complete the project by the end of 2004. Arabsat's original hub in Baghdad was irreparably damaged during the Iraqi war of 2003, forcing calls to and from Middle Eastern countries to be routed via the US or impromptu satellite facilities. Its replacement will provide telephony to the organisation’s 21 member states and connect to Iraq’s PSTN via the Baya exchange on the metropolitan loop circling Baghdad. Technology Partners was awarded a US$1.8 million deal to install the hub by the Iraqi Telephone and Post Company (ITPC) in December 2003. But difficulties in delivering payment for the contract have contributed to a delay in the project's completion. “We’re hoping to deliver [the gateway] by December 2004,” Omar Barzanji, Technology Partners’ chief executive officer, tells CommsMEA. “It took five months from the award date to get a letter of credit (LC) from ITPC, because there was no mechanism to send the LC via a bank in Baghdad. It then took between 120 and 150 days to get the equipment manufactured,” he adds.

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