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Kalimat brings 3.5G services to Iraq

Operator plans to offer fixed-wireless network throughout Iraq by 2009

Kalimat Telecom, a Baghdad-based operator, has launched Iraq's first 3.5G network, offering business and household customers fixed-wireless voice and data services on a CDME-Rev-A platform.

The network has already been deployed in Iraq's main cities including Baghdad, Basra and Kirkuk, representing an investment of some of $74 million. Coverage will be extended to the rest of the country by the end of 2009, when the investment will reach $275 million. The complete project, which is being deployed by Chinese vendor Huawei, is expected to reach $500 million, according to Kalimat's CEO, Wilson Varghese.

"Low penetration is a great potential and the country's infrastructure is really poor so there is a lot of potential in that market, and Iraqi people are really thirsty for data and voice networks," Varghese told CommsMEA.

Varghese anticipates that Kalimat will gain about 5 million household and business subscribers in four years, representing about 20% of the Iraqi market. The majority of Kalimat's business - about 80% - will be with residential users, and the remainder with business customers.

Varghese added that Kalimat's CDMA network will be backed up with fixed WiMAX in areas where there is a high concentration of business users that require greater bandwidth.

Kalimat, which expects to reach profitability in about 33 months, intends to add various value-added services including mobile TV, music and video-on-demand by the second quarter of 2009. The company is also planning to lay fibre-optic cables for backhaul in the next few years.

Dr Nasa Abachi, CTO of Kalimat Telecom added: "The rollout of this wireless network, with multi technology platforms is designed to cover the entire length and breadth of Iraq. This will create one of the Middle East's largest WLL wireless telecom network - a network that can withstand the voice call, data transfer and media volumes predicted for the next 25 years."

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