Iraq is expected to see a rise in internet penetration rates now that Gulf Bridge International (GBI) the Qatar-based submarine cable company has landed at the Al-Faw port in the south of the country.

Internet penetration in Iraq is less than 3 per cent at the moment, but with an international submarine fibre-optic cable linking Iraq to the rest of the GCC region, it gives the country more telecommunications access and capacity.

“We should be live in the next few weeks, we have completed landing the cable across the network and are now in the testing phase,” says Ahmed Mekky, chief executive officer at GBI.

The company has laid down 50,000 kilometres of submarine cable linking the GCC to India and Europe. The company has landed with state-owned Iraq Telecommunications & Post Company (ITPC), which will sell the capacity on to the mobile operators and internet service providers in the country.

“As an emerging market, Iraq has great development potential, which comes as a result of the country’s strategic location. In parallel with other projects the country is embarking on, this cable will facilitate Iraq’s ability to realise its potential,” says Amir al-Bayati, deputy general at ITPC.

GBI began construction of the network in 2008 and has invested $445m to date.

“Demand for capacity is doubling every year and better connectivity means better business. In the future, we may invest in a terrestrial network to diversify or establish another submarine route to Europe,” says Mekky.

The cable system will connect all the countries in the Gulf: Qatar, the UAE, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia in a ring configuration. Outside the Gulf, the cable connects eastwards to Mumbai, India and westwards to Sicily, Italy, with diverse routing to Milan and onwards to London, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Paris and Marseilles.