Iraqi wireless operator Asiacell has announced that it has disconnected ‘several million’ unlicensed mobile lines belonging to its rival Zain Iraq, in compliance with a directive issued by the Iraq Communications and Media Commission (CMC). CommsUpdate reported last month that the CMC fined Zain a total of USD262 million in January 2011 – to be paid by 11 April – for placing five million SIM cards on the market without obtaining prior legal approval. The CMC’s letter No. 969 dated 17 February 2011, which is addressed to all of Iraq’s mobile operators, states that no telecoms company has the right to activate or market any new line without the commission’s prior consent. The CMC requested that all telecom companies immediately discontinue interconnection with unlicensed lines to avoid litigation.
Based on the CMC’s directives, Asiacell said it has disconnected unlicensed Zain lines to avoid legal ramifications. The operator said it retains its legal right to demand compensation from Zain for distributing millions of unlicensed SIM cards. Asiacell also stated that Zain’s actions have limited the amount of lines available to Asiacell, which has damaged its market position by hindering its ability to launch offers and supply the Iraqi market with the necessary amount of SIM cards. ITP.net states that Zain responded to Asiacell’s announcement by saying that it ‘regretted’ its rival’s decision to stop interconnection with the disputed SIM cards. Zain added that its legal team was preparing ‘formal challenges’ to the CMC ruling and the USD262 million fine.