Zain Iraq to launch 3G services in country by January 2015

Zain Iraq to launch 3G services in country by January 2015


- Mobile operator enters agreement with CMC and earns right to utilize 3G spectrum following installment payment of USD 76.75 million representing 25% of the USD 307 million spectrum fee.

- Introduction of 3G will have positive impact on Iraq's domestic output and economic prosperity.

-  Iraq Prime Minister Dr Haidar Al-Abadi attends signing ceremony.

Zain Group, a leading innovator in mobile telecommunications in eight markets across the Middle East and Africa, announces that its subsidiary in Iraq, Atheer Telecom Iraq Limited ("Zain Iraq") has entered into an agreement with Iraq's Communications and Media Commission ("CMC") to secure authorization to utilize 2100 MHz spectrum for 3G services across Iraq. Zain Iraq recently paid the first installment fee amounting to USD 76.75 million representing 25% of the overall 3G spectrum fee of USD 307 million.

A signing ceremony was held at the Al Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad attended by Iraqi Prime Minister Dr Haider al-Abadi, Dr Safaa Rabee, CEO of the CMC and Dr Ali Al-Khwaildi chairman of the CMC commissioners and other distinguished Iraq government officials as well as Zain Iraq senior management led by Dr. Haidar Radi, Zain Iraq Chief Technology Officer.

In anticipation of receiving the 3G spectrum license, Zain Iraq commissioned three leading global technology solutions providers, namely Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia Networks to expand and upgrade the network with Single-RAN technology, thus allowing Zain Iraq to quickly roll-out 3G commercial services across the country.

In his keynote speech at the signing ceremony, Iraqi Prime Minister Dr Haider al-Abadi noted that "his government's role is to partner with and fully support the telecommunications private sector confident that advanced mobile technologies will play a constructive role in the future development of Iraq."

Commenting on the award of 3G spectrum, Zain Group CEO, Scott Gegenheimer said, "Zain views the launch of 3G services in Iraq as a complete game-changer for the country, which today measures less than 15% broadband penetration. We have already invested heavily in making the network 3G ready and our target is to be commercially operational by January 2015, allowing Iraqi customers to enjoy and benefit from widespread 3G coverage."

Gegenheimer continued, "We commend the CMC on its transparent and constructive attitude towards our discussions during the license process and I am confident that the launch of 3G services will positively impact Iraq's domestic output and economic prosperity on many levels." Today, data related revenues (excluding SMS and Value Added Services) represent only 4% of Zain Iraq's total revenues reflecting an annual growth rate of 12%.

On his part, Mohammed Charchafchi, Chairman of Zain Iraq said, "Today marks a new era of mobile telecommunications in Iraq and Zain is well prepared to offer the Iraqi community outstanding high-speed 3G voice and data services. Given Zain Iraq's aggressive expansion and network upgrade plans in motion, coupled with a concerted focus on attracting new corporate and individual customers based in the more affluent northern parts of the country through attractive marketing initiatives, we foresee significant growth in all our key financial metrics from the introduction of 3G in the country."

Since its acquisition of a mobile license to operate in Iraq in 2003, Zain has invested in the vicinity of USD 5 billion in the roll-out and development of its mobile network in Iraq. Today Zain Iraq employs over 3,000 talented Iraqi nationals and is the largest operator in the country with over 4,000 mobile network sites serving 13.3 million customers.