Russian national operator Rostelecom has announced that it will extend its internet infrastructure to Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, after signing an agreement with Iraqi company IQ Networks, and will partner Iran’s Telecommunication Infrastructure Company (TIC) and Azerbaijan’s Delta Telecom in the project. The planned system is expected to handle Europe-Asia voice and data transmission as part of a wider programme to improve internet service delivery in the Caspian region. The deal is reportedly the first of its kind signed by a Russian telecoms company in Iraq. Under the terms of the contract, Rostelecom will provide internet access via its own terrestrial communications infrastructure, in partnership with Iranian state-owned backbone infrastructure provider TIC and broadband operator Delta, which owns the largest internet backbone network in the Caucasus region. Delta will reportedly provide the transit portion of the channel between Russia and Iraq. If the pilot project is successful, Rostelecom plans to substantially increase the volume of internet traffic transferred through the region.
As previously reported in CommsUpdate, a Russia-Iran-Azerbaijan venture to improve fibre connectivity in the Caspian Sea region was launched at the end of November 2009 when Russian long-distance operator Synterra and Azerbaijan’s AzTelekom formed a joint venture with private company Iran Mobin, using the backbone of TIC to connect to a new regional fibre ring. Russian and Iranian state and company officials signed joint venture documents, whilst TIC also signed an agreement with Rostelecom, to share international transmission links, which it is assumed led to the newly announced rollout in Iraq.