By John Lee.

Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission (CMC) has reportedly ordered operators to block calls between their customers and Korek users in a dispute over number portability.

According to Rudaw, the regulator told mobile network providers that Erbil-based Korek had failed to meet its “contractual obligations” to allow customers to keep their phone number when they change service provider, while other providers such as Zain and Asiacell had complied with the regulations.

Korek has called the policy “unfair and unjust” both to customers and companies.

More here.

(Source: Rudaw)

By John Lee.

Iraqi media reported on Thursday that an agreement was signed between the Iraqi Ministries of Education and Communication to cut internet service during the period of the next “ministerial examinations” (sic).

The Ministry of Communications denies the reports, adding that it wishes to assure the Iraqi public that there is no intention to cut off the internet under any circumstances, because it “affects the lifeblood of life in Iraq, causing it to be blocked or severely damaged by the Iraqi national economy and all life facilities in the country“.

The Ministry also calls upon the relevant authorities in the Ministry of Education to use other methods to combat exam fraud.

(Source: Ministry of Communications)

A new cybercrimes law that would impose heavy prison sentences and hefty fines against peaceful critics who express themselves online would be a devastating setback for freedom of expression in Iraq, Amnesty International has said.

The organization has highlighted its serious concern over the draft “Law on Information Technology Crimes” in an open letter signed by nine other NGOs. The letter was submitted to the Iraqi authorities this morning and warns that the proposed law would “establish a climate of self-censorship in the country.

If passed, this draconian cybercrime law will be a devastating blow for freedom of expression in Iraq. The vague and overly broad wording of the law means it could easily become a tool for repression in a country where the space for critical voices is already severely restricted,” said Razaw Salihy, Iraq researcher at Amnesty International.

More here.

(Source: Amnesty International)

By John Lee.

Zain Iraq and Ericsson have announced an Internet of Things (IoT) competition for university students in Iraq.

The first-of-its-kind competition will run for six weeks during which the students are invited to present use cases to address the possibilities of 5G-IoT and industry digitalization and ultimately capture their full business potential.

The competition is supported by the Communication and Media Commission (CMC) in Iraq as part of its initiative (Du3M 2025) with an aim to engage millennials from top Iraqi universities in identifying innovations that will transform the way they live, work and learn.

Dr. Ali N. Al-Khwilidi, Chief Executive Officer of CMC said:

“IoT is being widely embraced with the number of connected devices growing rapidly. The IoT competition for universities allows students to unleash their potential in the IoT domain and actively involve talented Iraqi youth in the country’s evolution towards a connected society.”

Around 29 billion connected devices are forecast by 2022, of which around 18 billion will be related to IoT. Connected IoT devices include connected cars, machines, meters, sensors, point-of-sales terminals, consumer electronics and wearables. Between 2016 and 2022, IoT devices are expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21%, driven by new use cases.

Ali Al Zahid, Chief Executive Officer at Zain Iraq, said:

“IoT supports digital transformation and development of new business models and offerings. This competition will enable the Iraqi youth to share their technology innovations and act as a platform to facilitate the country’s digital transformation.”

The collaboration between Zain Iraq, Ericsson and CMC is a continuation of the series of initiatives to help turn the communications sector in the Middle East and Africa into one of the most dynamic and vibrant in the world.

Rafiah Ibrahim, Head of Ericsson Middle East & Africa says:

“With 20 billion IoT devices predicted in the next five years, there is an array of untapped business opportunities. Our joint initiative with Zain Iraq and CMC aims to create sustainable value and eventually make a positive impact on business, people and society in Iraq. By engaging with students, we share our knowledge on the latest advanced technologies and capitalize on their innovative thinking towards a connected future.”

(Source: Ericsson)

Parallel Wireless has announced that Kalimat Telecom, a subsidiary of Kuwait’s Trade Links, has selected Parallel Wireless to build out their mobile broadband network in Iraq.

According to the GSMA Mobile Economy: Middle East and North Africa 2018 report, Iraq has only a 52% wireless Internet penetration rate, presenting a great opportunity for telecom service  providers in that market.  Poor infrastructure and high operating costs are currently stunting development.

Kalimat recognized the inflexibility of legacy cellular solutions to bring digital services to the Iraqi population that is hungry for digital services.

Parallel Wireless says that its fully-virtualized HetNet and core solutions enable Kalimat to deploy a distributed virtualized mobile broadband network delivering consumer and enterprise wireless services across the region cost-effectively and on an accelerated timeline.

(Source: Parallel Wireless)

By Omar al-Jaffal for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Saudi media group MBC announced in early February that it will launch a new TV channel — MBC Iraq — aimed at Iraqi viewers. Soon after the announcement, a number of angry responses emerged in the Iraqi media and among political figures, which led MBC to defend its plan.

The MBC group generally produces entertainment shows and social content, which will also be aired on MBC Iraq that is scheduled to launch on the evening of Feb. 17.

MBC’s television operations are funded by Saudi businessmen, many of whom are close to the Saudi royal family.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

In its consolidated financial results for the full-year 2018, telecommunications group Zain reports that the improving socio-economic situation sweeping Iraq is providing the much-needed stimulus to support Zain Iraq’s turnaround efforts.

The company said in a statement:

The operation performed exceptionally well when compared to the previous year. Revenues and net profit are consistently growing on a quarter-on-quarter basis, with full-year revenues reaching USD 1.1 billion, a 3% increase Y-o-Y and EBITDA reached USD 423 million, up 11%.

“The operation reported a net profit of USD 49 million, up 70% Y-o-Y compared to a profit of USD 29 million in the previous year, with EBITDA margin standing at 37%.

“The expansion of 3.9G services across the country and restoration of sites in the West and North (97% of all sites restored to date), combined with numerous customer acquisition initiatives, especially in core regions, resulted in an impressive addition of 1.3 million customers (9% increase) to reach 16 million.

“Another contributing factor to the operation’s financial revival included cost optimization initiatives in areas such as repair and maintenance, as well as the significant growth of data revenues, robust growth in the Enterprise (B2B) segment and the revamping of Zain Iraq’s call centers, which significantly improved customer service.

(Source: Zain)

By John Lee.

Docomo Digital, part of Japan’s NTT Docomo, has said it is launching a mobile gaming platform with Zain Iraq, giving more than 16 million subscribers the ability to access hundreds of titles using direct carrier billing on monthly phone bills.

Zain Games’ GamEmpire is a bundle of native and HTML5 games that can be streamed directly to mobile phones or tablets.

Docomo Digital and Zain, a leading mobile operator in the Middle East and Africa, signed the initial agreement in early 2018 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The partnership allows Zain’s 46.9 million customers to access mobile content from Docomo and have it billed monthly through the carrier.

Zain, which operates in eight countries in the region, has already launched the service in Saudi Arabia,  Kuwait and Jordan. Additional rollouts are scheduled for Bahrain and Lebanon over the next few months.

Hiroyuki Sato (pictured), Docomo Digital CEO, said:

Launching our games platform in Iraq marks yet another important milestone in our important partnership with the Zain Group, and our first such partnership in Iraq.

“We are committed to expanding our footprint across the Middle East and we hope to bring our latest suite of content and billing services to Zain’s subscribers across the region.”

(Source: Docomo Digital)

By John Lee.

Florida-based NIC4 Inc., a division of Network Innovations Group, has been awarded a $28,812,143 firm-fixed-price Foreign Military Sales (Iraq) contract for capabilities to operate, sustain, support and expand Iraq’s Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) network.

Bids were solicited via the internet with five received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of Jan. 31, 2024.

NIC4 will provide knowledge-based support services for requirements with VSAT related needs, including satellite-bandwidth services for fixed and mobile users, OCONUS backup VSAT hub services, internet access over the VSAT network, satellite transition services and equipment, public internet protocol (IP) addresses, and annual maintenance and sustainment support.

In a statement, the company said:

“Enabling the Iraqi government to utilize satellite connectivity as part of the government’s rebuilding is significant in coordinating military and strategic operations.  Running critical communications over satellite networks reduces the Iraqi government’s dependency on vulnerable terrestrial infrastructure and ensures military and strategic services are operational at all times. “

Chad Gatlin, CEO of NIC4, added:

“NIC4’s unique contribution to the Iraq MOD is our experienced team members and network sustainment expertise. The competition for this U.S. Army FMS case to the satellite integrator industry was immense, and we are pleased to be chosen as the partner of choice to deliver our exceptional services to the Program.”

(Sources: US Dept of Defense, NIC4)

By John Lee.

Dubai-based MBC Group is reportedly about to start a new family-oriented entertainment channel for Iraqi viewers.

According to BroadcastPro Middle East, MBC Iraq is scheduled to be launched on the evening of Sunday, 17th February.

CEO Sam Barnett is quoted as saying:

“MBC Iraq is a premium television network that caters to the needs of a sophisticated Iraqi audience, offering exclusive and premium content suitable for all members of the family and all age groups. Our aim is to offer increased localised productions, offering opportunities to Iraqi talent and prospects in media to its youth.”

(Source: BroadcastPro Middle East)