Iraq to miss date for fourth licence

08 November 2010

New progress is unlikely unless the telecommunications law is passed by the country’s parliament

Iraqi Telecoms & Post Company (ITPC) director general Kassim al-Hassani says the firm “will try its best to launch the fourth mobile licence by the first quarter of 2011”.

Iraq’s parliament has also been trying its ‘best’ to form a government and in the process it has broken the world record for the longest political deadlock in the modern world.

The Communications Ministry proposed a fourth mobile licence in July 2009, when the fastest available frequencies were second-generation (2G). Network speeds have now reached 4G capabilities.

The main reason behind the delay is the parliament’s lack of understanding of the telecommunications sector. Its priority has been oil and as a result there is still no telecommunications law to define the role of the Communications Media Commission (CMC), the industry regulator, and its relationship with the Communications Ministry.

In theory, only the CMC can approve the fourth licence. It has not yet done so as it is still waiting for the ministry to submit an official proposal. The ministry has instead bypassed the CMC and received its approval from the cabinet. Once parliament decides on a new government, the new cabinet may not be so supportive of the ministry’s actions, which will further delay the process.

Until Iraq’s parliament ratifies the telecommunications law, the ministry can carry on trying ‘its best’ to launch the fourth licence.

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