Iraq Awards GSM Phone Licenses, Rebuffs CDMA

Techdirt has followed the silly proceedings characterizing the decision on which technology to use in Iraq as a US CDMA vs. French GSM battle. In reality, the technology decision should have been made in the best interests of Iraq, and between a better CDMA technology, or a more widely used GSM technology. Now, the Iraqi provisional government has announced licenses for three national networks using GSM. “The northern network will be run by a Kurdish firm that already set up a network in areas autonomous from Saddam’s rule, in partnership with Kuwaiti firm Wataniya. Kuwait’s MTC is a member of the consortium that won the southern license, and Egypt’s Orascom Telecommunications leads the consortium running the key Baghdad and central Iraq network. The three consortia will pay a total of $5 million between them as a fee for the two-year licenses”. Update by Mike: Also interesting to note that Batelco, the company that had actually gone ahead and built a working GSM network only to have it forced offline by angry US officials in Iraq did not win one of the licenses. In other words, they built a nice working network that is now useless. Batelco put a positive spin on it, though, saying they’re glad the wondering is over – and that Iraq seems too risky right now anyway. They’d rather spend their time working on other, more lucrative deals, while Iraq sorts itself out.

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