Top Telecommunication Companies in Iraq & Kurdistan
Zain Iraq - 53% market share
AsiaCell - 31% market share
Korek Telecom - 15.7% market share
Introduction to the Telecom Sector in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq
There are 3 mobile operators with GSM licenses in Iraq and Kurdistan: Zain Iraq, a unit of Kuwait's Zain, Qatar Telecom (Qtel) subsidiary AsiaCell, and France Telecom affiliate Korek Telecom. The penetration rate in the telecom sector stands around 75-78%, which is below penetration rates of the other Arab countries where it is 100% (for example 110% internet penetration rate in Saudi Arabia). The telecom sector experiences an exponential growth of 11.6%, where the penetration rate went in less than 7 years from 5% to 75%. The largest operator in the market is Zain with a 53% market share, followed by AsiaCell with a 31% market share and Korek Telecom with a 15.7% market share.
The sector is regulated by Communications and Media Commission (CMC) that according to the Iraqi Constitution, CMC is an independent authority that is not associated to any other governmental entity. It aims to regulate and develop the media and telecommunications sector in Iraq under the modern international criteria, albeit many observers claim that the Ministry of Communications de-facto controls the Commission.
The sector has been bracing-up for the deployment of the 3G (licenses were awarded in 2007 for a hefty price of US$1.25 billion each), but an additional spectrum is required. This spectrum is ready and available and a gov
Another important development in the industry is that the three existing mobile operators must offer under the terms of their 2007 licenses a quarter of their shares publicly and list them on Iraqi Stock Exchange, but because none has done so they are paying fines. However, the major problem is that most of Iraq's 900 frequencies are polluted.
Korek Telecom's CEO argues that "to go IPO, Korek Telecom needs to change the profile of the company from private to participant. To be able to do this Korek needs the clearance from the tax authority. The authority is refusing to give the clearance, because they say Korek needs to change its tax collecting authority from Kurdistan to Baghdad. We have been listed in this region for 11 years; we are paying all our tax within the federation. The law says that you can pay wherever you are. So there is a government issue that needs to be resolved between the contradiction on the tax law, the licensing law, the federal law and the stock exchange law."
The future of the telecom industry in Iraq remains uncertain. The experts predict the deployment of the 3G in the Kurdistan Region in 2013. The trend in the industry is higher competition for the shrinking pie, rising costs of the services due to regulations and alternative internet providers like Newroz Telecom offering voice over internet, challenging the supremacy of the incumbent, often slow moving GSM operators.
According to Reuters, "while mobile telephone penetration is now about 78 percent, only an estimated 2 percent of Iraq's population of about 33 million people has access to broadband, according to the GSM Association, a global body representing nearly 800 mobile operators."
List of Top (Mobile) Telecommunication Companies in Iraq & Kurdistan
Zain Iraq - 53% market share (2013)
AsiaCell - 31% market share (2013)
AsiaCell is a leading provider of quality mobile telecommunications services in Iraq, with more than 10 million subscribers as of December 31, 2012. In 2009, AsiaCell became the first mobile telecommunications provider in Iraq to achieve nationwide coverage, offering its services across all of Iraq's 18 governorates. AsiaCell's network covers 96% of the Iraqi population, making AsiaCell's national coverage the most extensive out of all Iraqi mobile telecommunications operators. The company traces its origins to the establishment of AsiaCell Company For Telecommunications - Iraq Limited in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1999. AsiaCell holds one of the three 15-year national operating licenses issued by the Communications and Media Commission (CMC).
Korek Telecom - 15.7% market share (2013)
The goal of Korek Telecom is to become the biggest and best network in the country. Since 2009 Korek has been expanding at a phenomenal rate, increasing the reach of its network and enhancing the quality of its cutting-edge services. As the fastest growing mobile operator in Iraq Korek Telecom now services approximately three million customers. By delivering best value, best service and best network to its growing customer base, Korek Telecom will continue to be a major player in the Iraq mobile industry offering real competition.
Alternative Telecommunication Companies in Iraq & Kurdistan
With more than 100,000 subscribers, Newroz telecom has emerged as the largest integrated internet service provider and telecom group in Kurdistan. The company offers a multitude of the best quality services for individuals and companies in Kurdistan like dedicated ADSL, Point to Point, Shared ADSL, VPN, HiMaz, Reber Quick. The company is currently working on the deployment of 4G (LTE) networ in the Kurdistan Region. The company also leases its fiber optic network and offers wireless internet.
During the few years of its age; Allai Newroz Telecom has completed a number of projects listed below:
- Laying over 1,500 km of fiber optic cable connecting Kurdistan region and Iraq to the whole world.
- Developing and expanding the land-line PSTN network in Erbil and Dohuk cities of Kurdistan region.
- Developing and expanding the fixed wireless network which covers Erbil and Duhok governorates very well.
- Built and launched a new CDMA network in Erbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniyah cities of Kurdistan region.
- Launched a state of the art wireless internet network using EVDO technology covering Erbil, Duhok and Sulaymaniyah.
- Building and activating High speed broadband ADSL network in Erbil & Duhok.