Iraq gears up for communications licence awards

The NCMC has announced that 26 consortia have responded to the Request For Information (RFI) for Local Services Licenses in Iraq that was issued on June 10.

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By  Tawanda Chihota Published  September 1, 2005

Globecomm Systems, a global provider of end-to-end value-added satellite-based communications solutions, has been awarded a one-year contract extension by the Iraqi Telecom & Post Company (ITPC). Through its partners, Globecomm will provide international voice services to the ITPC for phone calls originating in Iraq as well as for calls originating outside of the country. Globecomm Network Services Corporation (GNSC) is the primary service provider for the ITPC and has been carrying its international voice traffic for the past eighteen months. "GNSC continues to grow its international voice business by leveraging strong global relationships. The GNSC team is working closely with the ITPC to provide voice services in and out of Iraq,” says David Hershberg, CEO and chairman of Globecomm Systems Inc. Meanwhile, as Iraq’s mobile communications industry awaits the imminent issue of request for proposals (RFPs) for Iraq's forthcoming mobile licence auction, a number of key questions still remain unanswered. As recently as July 2005, the National Communications and Media Commission (NCMC) – Iraqi's 12-month old regulator – stated that even a decision on the number of licences had yet to be taken. And this is merely one issue among many critical and difficult choices that the NCMC needs to make, under the auspices of the Ministry of Communications, as it gears up for its first major test as the regulator of Iraq's nascent telecommunications sector. The NCMC's proposed strategy for dealing with these various problems will be detailed in an RFP issued this month. And as the date approaches, speculation regarding the number of licences to be issued and the terms attached will mount. 15-year timeframes are expected, while bidders are also expecting an open auction. In the meantime, Iraq's three incumbent operators will continue to publicly confirm their commitment to expansion in the Iraqi mobile market. Asia-cell, which currently claims 800,000 subscribers in northern Iraq, has stated that it expects to have 1 million subscribers by December 22. Meanwhile, MTC Atheer and Iraqna each expect to claim 1.5 million subscribers each by the same point. Combined, the three operators will have invested over US$500 million in expanding their networks by the time their current licences expire. Their efforts will see Iraq with a penetration rate of around 13.5% by the end of 2005. Meanwhile NCMC has announced that 26 consortia have responded to the Request For Information (RFI) for Local Services Licenses in Iraq that was issued on June 10. The NCMC has now completed the evaluation of the responses of the applicants using a number of criteria that took into consideration the following areas: Technical ability, operational know-how, commercial and marketing strengths and applicants’ corporate composition and experience. The consortia that were selected to advance to the next stage of the licensing process and qualified to receive the RFP are the following: Al Fawares Group Al-Sadeem Co. Ltd. Babylon Telecommunications (Babtel.net) Baghdad Comm Svcs Coop Society Eagle Group First Iraqi Consortium Great Bear International Services (Pvt) Ltd. Investcom Holding S.A. Iraq Global Iraq Telecom Consortium MTC Munir Sukhtian Consortium SWG Iraq TeckTel, Ltd. Trade Links ME Uruk Engineering Services VoEx International Due to the high level of interest and demand for these licences, the NCMC has decided not to accept any further applications or responses to the RFI.

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