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Kalimat signs IPTV deal with PCCW

Iraqi CDMA operator plans to launch IPTV and mobile TV services in Iraq and Kuwait in fourth quarter of 2009

Iraqi fixed wireless operator Kalimat Telecom has signed a $25 million deal with Hong Kong based operator PCCW to launch IPTV and mobile TV services in Iraq and Kuwait.

Under the 50/50 joint venture Kalimat will provide the carrier services while PCCW will run the operation and provide the content.

The service will offer a wide choice of TV channels, video-on-demand and music-on-demand to Kalimat subscribers on their handsets and TV sets. The service is expected to go live in the fourth quarter of 2009 or early 2010, Wilson Varghese, CEO of Kalimat confirmed to CommsMEA.

“Iraq now depends mostly on satellite channels so we thought this would be a good jump to a very professional IPTV service, with a wider choice for customers in their living rooms and on their mobile devices,” Varghese said. “We are looking for 600,000 subscribers after two years of operations.”

In a separate development, Kalimat has entered a deal with one of Iraq’s GSM operators. Under the deal, the undisclosed GSM operator will offer its subscribers access to Kalimat’s fixed-wireless service as part of a bundle.

Subscribers to this service will be able to use a dual sim handset to access GSM mobile services throughout Iraq, and then switch seamlessly to lower cost ‘fixed’ services and international calls using Kalimat’s CDMA operation. The GSM operator will also benefit by being able to offer its subscribers 4G services via Kalimat’s network, including mobile TV.

The bundled offering will be available in about a month, and Kalimat is also planning to introduce a dual Sim handset to the Iraqi market next month, according to Varghese.

In a separate development, Kalimat announced this month that its users would benefit from the availability of RUIM card technology in Iraq. RUIM cards – which are the CDMA equivalent of GSM sim cards – will allow Kalimat subscribers to change their handsets more easily and give them access to a greater choice of handsets from independent outlets.

“Users will have greater flexibility,” Varghese said. “There are a lot of handsets on the market now, Samsung, Nokia, Siemens, LG – all of them have brought in terminals for CDMA.”