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CEOs optimistic about 3G in Iraq

Boss of Korek Telecom expects country to issue 3G spectrum this year

Operators, Telecoms, Licensing, Korek Telecom

Iraq, one of the few countries in the MEA region to still lack 3G services, is expected to issue the spectrum necessary for its three main mobile operators to launch 3G services by the end of the year.

Ghada Gebara, CEO, Korek Telecom, expects Iraq's telecoms regulator, the Communications and Media Commission (CMC), to issue 3G spectrum in the 2.1 gigahertz band by the end of the year.

Gebara confirmed that Korek's licence already allows the operator to use any technology, and that the telco was waiting for the required spectrum rather than a 3G licence.

However, Iraq's operators still appear to be in some doubt about the amount of spectrum they will receive for 3G, and they also have concerns about the state of backhaul infrastructure in the country.

The fibre optic trunking infrastructure between Iraq's main cities is important for the success of 3G services, but remains a government monopoly, according to Gebara.

"This is something that they need to look at if they want 3G to be a success," she told CommsMEA.

The path to 3G in Iraq has been tortuous for Iraq's three GSM operators, Zain, Asiacell and Korek, who have been waiting for the green light from the CMC for a number of years.

Scott Gegenheimer, CEO, Zain Group, told CommsMEA that he expected 3G to "energise the entire market and economy" in Iraq.

"The economy needs it, the growth of the [mobile] industry needs it. We have the lowest penetration in the region. We need 3G, and we're looking forward to it. We think 3G will elevate everything."