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Iraq plans for $2bn fourth mobile license

$500mn is to be spent on the telecom sector this year, says Iraq Communications minister

Iraq plans for $2bn fourth mobile license
Iraq's plan for a fourth mobile operator license is to have three shareholders.

The government of Iraq plans to auction a $2 billion fourth mobile operator license in the country by this year end.

Mohammed Allawi, communications minister of Iraq, said that the fourth license is to have three shareholders, of which 40% will go to the operator, 35% shares to the public, and 25% shares to the ministry, according to a report from Reuters.

Iraq has allocated $500 million to be spent on the telecoms industry this year, which included 37% of last year's unspent budget allocation, Allawi was quoted as saying.

Kuwait's Zain, AsiaCell and Korek bought 15-year licenses for $1.25 billion each in 2007, based on the auction held in the country.

Currently, Iraq has about 1.2 million landlines, of which 800,000 are in working order. Allawi said that the communications ministry aims to increase the number of landlines to 10 million within five years period, which will be equivalent to a 25% penetration rate. He also stated that the country's internet penetration rate of 3% will rise to 25% once the 10 million landline mark had been achieved.

Allawi also stated that the completion of a fibre-optic network to connect Iraq to the rest of the world would be one of his main aims for 2011. The fibre infrastructure includes the installation of three fiber optic cable connections between Iraq and Iran, two each with Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, as well as links with Syria and Kuwait.




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