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Orascom given three-month extension to Iraq mobile licence

4 Jan 2007

Egypt-based Orascom Telecom says its Iraqi subsidiary Iraqna has been awarded a three-month extension to its mobile licence by the Iraqi National Communications & Media Commission (NCMC). The regulator’s decision is, however, a sign that the already overdue auction of four 15-year mobile licences now faces even more delays. The process was scheduled to get underway in December 2005, with the aim of replacing the three regional concessions in force at that date. This deadline was missed and was put back to June 2006; existing licensees were granted a six-month extension to their licences. By that date however, there was still no firm timetable for the auction and a further three-month extension was granted. At the Iraqi Telecoms Conference in early September 2006 it was announced by the Minister of Communications that one of the four concessions had been procured by the government of Iraq, although this has not since been confirmed by the NCMC, whose original proposal was that no licensee may have more than 10% ownership by any government entity, foreign or Iraqi. In the meantime Iraq’s three mobile operators – Asia-Cell, MTC Atheer and Orascom (Iraqna) – have each received a series of extensions to their temporary licences.

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