Iraq - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 19 Jul 2021 Update History

Report Pages: 103

Analyst: Sebastien De Rosbo

LTE launches in Iraq marred by legal issues

Iraq continues to face a number of political and economic challenges, though increasing civil stability has made it easier for mobile and fixed-line operators to rebuild telecom services and infrastructure damaged during the last few years. The government was minded to extend the licences held by the MNOs for an additional three years to compensate for the chaos and destruction caused between 2014 and 2017 when Islamic State held sway in many areas of the country. However, this plan was scuppered by opposition among some politicians, who asserted that the market needed more competition rather than extensions of existing licenses.

The three major MNOs are Zain Iraq, Asiacell, and Korek Telecom, which together control over 90% of the mobile market. The operators have struggled to develop LTE services, partly because of issues related to damaged infrastructure but also partly due to wrangles with the government and regulator concerning the conditions of their licences. With the availability of LTE services being very low, there is little change for 5G to be available in the short term. In the meantime, most services are still based on GSM and 3G, except in the Kurdish region where LTE is more widely available.

This BuddeComm report provides key telecoms industry information and statistics for Iraq. It provides information on existing telecoms infrastructure, the regulatory environment, fixed and mobile subscriber statistics and information on the major operators.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus continues to have a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure.

Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.

On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.

The report covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Key developments:

  • Security concerns continuing to pose issues for safety of operators’ telecom infrastructure;
  • Prepaid segment instrumental in encouraging mobile take-up by the mass market;
  • Mobile operators focused on lucrative enterprise and B2B market segments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Iraqi Telephone and Postal Company (ITPC), Newroz Telecom, Asiacell, Zain Iraq, Korek Telecom, Regional Telecom, Communication and Media Commission (CMC), ScopeSky Communications.

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