Iraqi cell coverage; a farce in four parts


Tenders for Iraqi mobile phone services are “… potentially among the most lucrative contracts to be offered in post war Iraq.” A special clause is added to the tender banning bids from companies with govt. ownership in excess of 10%. How’s that for neo-liberalism?
Cell service in Iraq is live but for US personnel only. It’s provider Worldcom (now MCI) is since banned from further US govt. contracts. Mr. Ebbers, Worldcom’s ex-CEO yesterday pleaded not guilty to charges related to the $11Bn. scandal.
Batelco spent $5M launching a public cell service in July. It worked, briefly. Plans to offer free phones to police, fire and emergency crews in Baghdad were shelved when the US instructed Batelco that a “license” was required. When Batelco applied for a license they were told to stop the service. Batelco’s shareholders include the Government of Bahrain.
The US has not ruled out offering non-GSM services. If competing Qualcomm CDMA technology were offered that would make Iraqi’s unable to call into neighboring countries 🙁
Financial Times print edition Thursday September 4th.
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