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Govt slaps USD3bn price-tag on 3G licences

5 Nov 2012

According to Middle Eastern business website The National, Iraq’s three mobile operators will be forced to pay at least USD3 billion apiece to upgrade to 3G concessions. The decision, which was made by a parliamentary higher committee, would mean that Iraq has the dubious distinction of offering the most expensive 3G licences anywhere in the region. Ahmed Alomary, a representative of industry regulator, the Communications and Media Commission (CMC), commented: ‘The committee discussed how to give them the spectrum, whether to auction a new licence or introduce new fees that the mobile operators will have to pay. They decided that it would be better to go through a new licence worth USD3 billion to USD6 billion’.

The decision has been poorly received by the incumbent operators, which say that their respective mobile concessions, for which they paid USD1.25 billion apiece back in 2007, are technology neutral, and as such encompass both 3G and 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) already. Ghada Gebara, the chief executive of Korek Telecom, commented: ‘In short we can use any technology we want. The issue is with the frequency allocation. For the price we have already paid, we should get the frequencies for free or for a minimal fee as was recently done in Morocco. If the issue of frequency allocation is not solved on cost and quality, then 3G will not be possible’.

Iraq, Asiacell, Korek Telecom, Zain Iraq

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