Iraq’s Ministry of Communications (MoC) plans to award the country’s fourth national mobile licence in the first quarter of next year, Gulf Daily News reports, citing a senior official. According to Communication Minister Farouq Abdul-Qadir Abdulrahman, more than 15 companies have so far expressed an interest in the concession – including US-based Verizon Communications, South Africa’s MTN, Turkcell of Turkey, the UAE’s Etisalat, France Telecom and UK-based Vodafone – since the cabinet initially approved a plan for a fourth operator in July 2009. The new mobile service provider, which would be selected through an open tender, would give 35% of its operating revenue to the government as part of the deal. The winner will partner with state-owned operator Iraq Telecommunications and Post Company (ITPC), which falls under the MoC. The licence received final cabinet approval in May 2010.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Zain Iraq is currently the country’s largest cellco by subscribers, with over ten million customers at 30 June 2010, followed by Asiacell (7.91 million) and Korek Telecom (2.53 million). Kurdish operator SanaTel provides services in the north-eastern province of Sulaymaniyah and had an estimated 508,000 subscribers at the same date.