Iraq’s Communications Minister Tawfiq Allawi has outlined the shareholder structure for Iraq’s fourth licence, due to be issued later this year. As reported by MEED in March 2010, the private mobile operator will take a 40 per cent share and will have to invest at least $1bn in infrastructure. The Communications Ministry will own 25 per cent through its subsidiary Iraq Telecoms & Post Company (ITPC) and the remaining 35 per cent will be publicly owned.

While the industry regulator the Communications and Media Commission (CMC) formally approved the ministry’s application for a fourth licence in March 2010, the ministry has not submitted request for the frequencies or shared its plans with the CMC.

“Nothing has been put to the CMC, there has been no formal letter from ITPC or the ministry, so we cannot give a response to the minister’s statement,” says Ahmed Alomary, one of the commissioners.

Iraq’s licences are unique in the region, since they are solely GSM licences and not technology licences. In other words, there are no barriers, legal or otherwise, for any of the operators to launch third- or fourth-generation capabilities.

Currently the three national operators, Asicaell, Zain Iraq and Korek Telecom, all operate 2G technologies.