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Wireless to play key role in re-building Iraq

According to IDC, security concerns and the need for rapid, low cost deployment will mean that wireless dominates voice, data and internet services in the country.

Wireless technologies are expected to play a key part in the re-building of Iraq’s communications infrastructure. According to IDC, security concerns and the need for rapid, low cost deployment will mean that wireless dominates voice, data and internet services in the country.

“The high degree of uncertainty surrounding the political, economic, and security developments in Iraq renders inappropriate any single set of forecasts for the telecommunications markets of this country. The evolution of the security situation in Iraq should be the central variable for any scenario analysis of this market,” asserts Mohsen Malaki, senior analyst at IDC CEMA's Telecommunications Group.

“Security concerns are likely to drive investment decisions, which will in turn affect employment, the influx of foreign expertise and businesses, consumer and business spending, and the availability and coverage of telecommunications networks,” he adds.

Mobile GSM will substitute fixed-line PSTN, while VSAT, wireless LAN, broadband fixed wireless, satellite, microwave links, and free space optics are likely to dominate data and internet access connections, in addition to their use in national and international network transmission.

The shortage of fixed-line telephony infrastructure in the country has accelerated demand for mobile services. This has been reflected not only in the encouraging uptake for satellite handsets across the country, but also in the increase in the usage pattern for these satellite handsets.

Wireless technology will also dominate internet access and data services. Currently, internet access within the country is almost exclusively over satellite gateways. Multinational corporations and NGOS are using broadband satellite and VSAT for data and web connectivity.

IDC has conducted a scenario analysis of the fixed-line telephony, mobile services, and internet access markets in Iraq using optimistic and pessimistic assumptions about the situation.

The optimistic view of voice services predicts there will be rapid growth of the country's total connectivity (telephony and mobile) by the end of 2005, which is the duration of the recently awarded mobile services licenses, followed by further robust growth. Total connections are projected to reach 5.41 million by the end of 2008.

IDC’s optimistic expectations for web access estimate that there will be a substantial increase in internet connections, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 60% between 2003 and 2008. But only a 19% CAGR in the pessimistic scenario.

According to IDC, the introduction of broadband should create a greater variance between the optimistic and pessimistic scenarios. Much of the demand for broadband will likely come from the international businesses setting up shop, some government bodies and the oil industry.

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