Swedish-Iraqi firm IQ Network recently won a contract to provide a fibre-optic network to link Saudi Arabia to Turkey through Iraq. The licence was awarded by Iraq’s National Investment Commission and is worth $180m.

Chairman Martin Frank says: “This project provides a viable alternative to the submarine cables dominating the regions supply of communication. But the final result the network will achieve is to bring European level services to the broadband users in the region.’”

The network will link the oil refineries of Iraq’s Ministry of Oil. It will begin at the Saudi/Kuwaiti border at Faw, go through to Basra, Najaf, Karbala, Haditha, Bayji and Mosul before reaching Turkey. Although the infrastructure has the capability to provide local broadband connectivity, IQ Network is currently not allowed to connect any of the Iraqi telecoms operators to the network.

IQ Network is working with Turkcell’s sister company Superonline and BOTAS, Turkey’s oil and gas pipelines company.  A Saudi Arabian partner has yet to be confirmed although Mobily is the most likely candidate.

Work will begin mid-November and is expected to finish within the next 18-months.

IQ Network signed a deal earlier this month with Rostelecom to help the Russian telecoms provider extend its internet infrastructure to Iraq.  

Iraq’s Ministry of Communications has boosted investment in its telecommunications infrastructure. The Investment Commission issued two marine fibre-optic cable contracts to Gulf Bridge International (GBI) and India’s Reliance Communications worth $30m and $36m respectively.