Iraq Telecoms Market Report

Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Publication Date: June 2024

Report Pages: 122

Iraq’s main MNOs share tower infrastructure to reduce operating costs

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 intended 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 wrangled with the government and regulator concerning the conditions of their licences. Following disputes over tax and other issues, Korek Telecom in late 2023 temporarily had its network cut off from domestic and international carriers.

The operators have also struggled to develop LTE services, partly because of issues related to damaged infrastructure. With the availability of LTE services being very low outside of the main urban centres, there is little chance for 5G to be available in the short term. Nevertheless, in October 2023 the regulator announced that it would grant a three-year national 5G licence to a new operating company to be created by a subsidiary of the Ministry of Communications. Local investment funds can subscribe to the new operating company, while up to 10% of the company’s shares may be reserved for citizens.

Key developments:

  • Zain and Ooredoo combine their mobile towers in Iraq under a new towerco.
  • Telecom regulator lifts block on Korek Telecom’s access to other carriers’ networks over unpaid bills after Korek agrees to pay $800 million tax bill.
  • Progress is made with the Silk Route Transit terrestrial fibre project.
  • Government meets with SpaceX with a view to launching Starlink satellite internet services in Iraq.
  • Government removes 20% sales tax on mobile top-up cards.
  • New national data centre is opened.
  • Report update includes telcos' operating and financial data to Q3 2023, updated Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, recent market developments.

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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