The Iraqi government has reportedly granted the country’s three national mobile operators – Zain Iraq, a unit of Kuwait’s Zain Group, Ooredoo subsidiary Asiacell and Orange affiliate Korek – permission to utilise 3G frequencies, effectively bringing an end to a lengthy stalemate. Reuters quotes a statement by the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers as saying that the trio now have ‘the right to use third-generation frequencies’, without providing specific details. The assertion was backed up by Hayder Ahmed, head of corporate communications for Zain Iraq, who told Reuters that the Council’s decision was ‘a positive step for the development of the telecom industry in Iraq’, even if his company had yet to be made aware of the government’s launch conditions.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, as recently as March 2014 Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission (CMC) was determined to preside over a two-step process, which would see a quick, closed 3G auction, followed by the introduction of a fourth mobile player further down the line. Meanwhile, the government said it remained keen to combine the two processes, potentially delaying the country’s introduction of 3G technology even further. Based on previous statements by the regulator, the 3G licences are expected to comprise 15MHz of spectrum in the 2100MHz band.