Iraq Seeks Fourth Mobile Telecom Provider

By John Lee.

Iraq has invited interested companies to submit proposals to run a fourth mobile phone service in the country.

The state-run Communication and Media Commission (CMC) said the planned license will run for 15 years, with the possibility of renewal.

Interested companies have until 20th November to submit papers.

Iraq’s existing three mobile telecom service provider — Asiacell, Zain Iraq and Korek — paid the government $1.25 billion each for a 15-year license, according to Associated Press.

Please click here for full details.

(Source: CMC, Associated Press)

(Mobile phone image via Shutterstock)

Asiacell Reactivating Parts of its Network

By John Lee.

In its 3Q statement to the markets, Asiacell‘s owner Ooredoo has said that its overall financial performance was impacted by the security situation in Iraq.

Asiacell recorded improved revenue, EBITDA, and Net Profit in Q3 2015 compared to Q2 2015.

Asiacell’s total customer base stood at 10.6 million at the end of the period. Asiacell is the market leader in data revenue for 9M 2015 thanks to its 3G network.

The overall security situation has started to show some improvements in key areas of the country, such as Kirkuk, Tikrit and Diyala where Asiacell has started to reactivate some parts of its network.

The aggressive pricing which had characterized the market for several quarters continued to moderate. Revenue for 9M 2015 was QAR 3,712 million (9M 2014: QAR 4,804 million), a decrease of 23%. EBITDA decreased to QAR 1,612 million in 9M 2015 from QAR 2,272 million in 9M 2014. Net Profit stood at QAR 152 million for 9M 2015 (QAR 868 million in 9M 2014).

(Source: Ooredoo)

New Sales Tax Weighs on Zain Iraq

By John Lee.

In a statement to the markets covering the first nine months of the year, Zain Group said that the implementation of a new 20 percent sales tax on mobile servicesin Iraq, as well as wide-ranging tax increases on other sectors in the country, that commenced 1 August 2015, have hit spending on mobile services:

Zain Iraq launched 3G services at the beginning of the year and is actively rolling out 3G services across the country. This contributed to data revenues growth of 39% Y-o-Y for the nine months. Zain Iraq’s performance has been severely hampered by the escalation of social instability that has resulted in several million people being displaced internally.

“Zain Iraq also has to endure frequent temporary network shutdowns and associated higher network operational costs. In addition, the implementation of a new 20% sales tax on mobile services together with a wide range of tax increases in other sectors in Iraq were introduced on 1st August, 2015, impacting spending on mobile services.

“These exceptional circumstances coupled with intense competition and currency fluctuations, adversely affected the operation’s financial performance. Revenues for the first nine months of 2015 reached USD 924 million, with EBITDA reaching USD 359 million (representing an impressive 38.8% margin), while net income amounted to USD 102 million.

“It is worth mentioning that the Q3 2015 KPIs grew by revenues 7%, EBITDA 13% and net income 60% as compared with Q2 2015. The Zain Iraq team is committed to maintaining a resilient and efficient network despite the domestic situation. The operator also foresees significant growth in all key financial indicators due to the impact of mobile data revenue growth given the pent-up demand for broadband services. The operator now serves 11.4 million customers.”

Zain Group CEO, Scott Gegenheimer (pictured) noted:

“We are pleased to see the continued growth in data usage and related revenue metrics across all our operations, reflecting the success of the company’s primary focus to upgrade its networks and commitment to delivering an affordable and compelling digital lifestyle experience to our customers.

“Despite not witnessing year-on-year growth in several key aspects of the Group’s consolidated financial results predominantly due to the unavoidable circumstances facing our operation in Iraq, our impressive EBITDA margin of 43.5% reflects the success of Zain Group’s operational efficiency drive.”

“The positive momentum and improving financial performance of our operations in Saudi Arabia and Sudan bodes well for the future of both companies. We continue to grow our customer base in our home base of Kuwait and we are working closely with the management team there to address the major competitive challenges in this lucrative market.

“It is gratifying to see both the Bahrain and Jordan operations continue to grow their customer base and data related revenues on the back of their respective upgraded and newly installed 4G networks. We are hopeful that the social unrest in Iraq subsides soon, so the operation can fully capture its growth potential with its newly operational 3G service.”

(Source: Zain)

AT&T Expands Operations in Iraq

AT&T has opened a new affiliate office in “Energy City” in Basra to serve multi-national companies in Iraq, particularly those in the energy sector.

Dan Walsh (pictured), AT&T’s Senior Vice President and Managing Director for Energy Business Solutions, said:

It’s not every day we open up a new country for AT&T. Our data services are available to customers in more than 190 countries and territories – this represents 99% of the world’s economy.

“Now we can better connect our customers doing business in Iraq so they have highly secure access to their critical apps.

“No matter where our customers decide to do business, we are helping them connect, protect, virtualize and manage their business.”

(Source: AT&T)

MEOSAT Iraq Service is Live

MEOSAT has announced that its O3b system is live and operational, delivering uninterrupted network service to Southern Iraq. Oilfields enabled by digital technologies provide the highest ROI and have the greatest potential to reduce risk, optimize production and contribute to higher operational efficiency for Oil & Gas operators.

This is made ever more relevant and urgent with the recent fall in oil prices. MEOSAT is a key network infrastructure provider, bridging the digital technologies, from remote oil and gas fields in Southern Iraq to anywhere in the world where required.

MEOSAT’s end-to-end network solution is delivering uninterrupted network service anywhere from Southern Iraq. This next generation technology solution combines the advanced fiber-speed of the O3b satellite backbone with Redline Communications‘ proven Virtual Fiber™ point-to-point and point-to-multipoint industrial wireless backhaul systems.

Low latency connectivity is a critical enabler for energy operators, ensuring performance sensitive applications such as ERP (Citrix, Oracle, SAP) and real time monitoring and control will operate flawlessly over the O3b network just as they do over a fiber network.

MEOSAT’s powerful architecture stands ahead of alternative solutions, delivering:

  • The highest data speeds of both downlink and uplink connectivity
  • The lowest latency in end-to-end transmission – one quarter the latency of geostationary satellites
  • Absolute reliability and security that is proven in harsh and hazardous environments
  • Flexible consumption models that best suit the customer capex/opex needs

Michael A. Iwanow, MEOSAT’s CEO says:

“For the first time in history in Iraq, Internet with 140ms steady round-trip latency can be experienced live, with no downtime. The result for operators is, significantly enhanced operational efficiency, cost savings, enablement of cloud sensitive applications and a seamless user experience”

Robert Williams, Redline CEO, added:

“A high performance wide-area network is key to improving efficiency and productivity in oil field operations and Redline is pleased to deliver the terrestrial portion of the MEOSAT solution. Our Virtual Fiber terrestrial wireless network cost effectively and seamlessly extends the O3b satellite service to virtually any location in southern Iraq.”

MEOSAT is currently giving energy operators the opportunity to test the performance of the service at its Network Operations Centre (NOC) in Basra Industrial Community. Operators who have seen the performance have been impressed, confirming they can easily use their ERP software as well as perform live video conferencing with zero delays.

Operators have the flexibility to buy or lease a full end-to-end communications system covering all facets of their telecommunications operations in Iraq.

For the opportunity to visit and experience the fastest Internet in Iraq, please contact the NOC at +964 781 484 32 76.

(Source: Meosat)

Zain Iraq Shares Jump on ISX Debut

By Simon Kent.

Zain Iraq is now listed on the Baghdad stock exchange, some 4 years after the company was required to do so under the terms of their market entry to Iraq, Reuters reports.

Analysts such as Hassan Aldahan, chairman of Baghdad investment company Bain Alnahrain, explained that the 50% rise on share value was artificially inflated. Aldahan noted that this was due to a lack of auditable financial data from the company.

Zain Iraq closed Tuesday’s trading with a market capitalization of $9.4 billion, compared to a market capitalization of over $6 billion for the parent company.

Zain Iraq’s profits have fallen in the face of competition from Asiacell and Korek, as well as gains by the Islamic State last year.

(Source: Reuters)



Regulator Drops $100m Zain Fine

By John Lee.

Iraq’s Communication and Media Commission (CMC) has scrapped a $100-million fine imposed on mobile phone operator Zain Iraq.

The telecom watchdog had claimed that Zain Iraq sold mobile phone SIM cards without its permission.

Reuters reports that a CMC committee considering the case decided not to impose the fine.

(Source: Reuters)

(Dollars image via Shutterstock)

Minister Orders Cheaper Internet Access

By John Lee.

The Minister of Communications, Hassan Rashid [Kazem Hassan Rashed] (pictured), has reportedly ordered a reduction in the cost of internet services, to make them more accessible to all segments of society.

Shafaaq News also report that the Ministry of Communications has completed an optical fibre project to provide high-speed internet access in Babil province.

(Source: Shafaaq News)

Restrata wins $1.2m Network Deal

Restrata has been awarded a $1.2 million dollar (1.4 billion Iraqi dinar) contract to deploy a new managed internet network across six locations in Iraq, including West Qurna 2 Oilfield, Baghdad, Basra Central and Iraq Energy City.

This new managed network enables Restrata to provide their clients with IP connectivity required to access bandwidth-hungry services and applications. The network will be managed over unlicensed microwave frequency and carrier grade leased capacity on multiple routes out of Iraq and into our partner’s European network and POP’s.

Marc Merchant, Head of Sales for Satellites Communications, said:

This award is a significant win for Restrata especially with the current economic changes and hostilities that are present in Iraq.

“The deciding factors for this award were Restrata’s security capabilities as well as their long-term presence and combination of expertise in the communications field. With seven routes leaving Iraq, the network offers the highest level of resilience, consistency and uptime of the network which is paramount to the clients’ demands.”

A vastly diverse and qualified team will deliver the three-year project with Restrata’s partner at the six different locations, with work commencing by end of June 2015. The project will also include professional services, maintenance and operations that support throughout the life cycle.

The oil and gas sector has a high demand to immediately access business-critical information and applications,” said Merchant. “To connect to critical services and share information between branches, they require secure and reliable means of connectivity; a service that Restrata is proud to say we can supply across Iraq, even providing coverage in the most hostile and remote locations.”

The project will also include professional services, maintenance and operations support throughout the life cycle.

(Source: Restrata)

(Communications image via Shutterstock)

Zain Blames Iraq for Profit Slump

By John Lee.

Kuwait’s Zain Group has reported a 26.7 percent fall in first-quarter profit on Tuesday, as its Iraq business suffered from political instability and intense competition.

Zain Group CEO, Scott Gegenheimer (pictured) noted:

The quarter reflected mixed results in what were quite challenging conditions in several of our key markets, especially Iraq where the security situation and intense competition is significantly impacting the performance there and subsequently the Group’s overall financials.

“Nevertheless we witnessed many positive signs of net income and customer growth during the first quarter of 2015 when compared to the final quarter of 2014.”

Zain Iraq launched 3G services at the beginning of the year and is very active in rolling out 3G services across the country. The performance of Zain Iraq over the quarter was severely hampered by the escalation of political and social instability that has seen several million people displaced internally, coupled with Zain Iraq enduring frequent temporary network shutdowns and associated higher network operational costs.

These exceptional circumstances coupled with intense competition and currency fluctuations, adversely affected the operation’s financial performance, as its revenues for the first three months reached USD 304 million, with EBITDA reaching USD 110 million, and net income amounting to USD 34 million. Comparing the first quarter 2015 results to the fourth quarter of 2014, Zain Iraq’s revenue decreased by 15%, EBITDA decreased 5%, and net income increased by 4%.

Zain Iraq team is committed to maintaining a resilient and efficient network regardless of the situation in the country and the operator foresees significant growth for all key financial indicators due to mobile data revenue growth given the pent-up demand for broadband services.

The operator now serves 13.5 million customers. On 30 April, 2015, the Iraq Securities Commission (ISC) formally approved Al Khatem JSC’s (Zain’s joint stock company in Iraq) application to list on the Iraq Stock Exchange and the company is in the process of completing all necessary and statutory procedures and steps to ensure that this process is completed in a timely fashion.

(Source: Zain)