Iraq - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses
Mobile services remain competitive in Iraq, despite the ongoing civil tension
The ongoing civil war occurring in Iraq is taking its toll on essential services, but despite this predicament the country continues to maintain a functioning mobile sector in many geographic areas. Some mobile network sites are currently unavailable due to seizure by rebel forces so the operators are concentrating their efforts on maintaining services at the sites they are able to readily access.
Three mobile operators ensure the market remains competitive including Zain Iraq, Asiacell and Korek Telecom. Competition may increase further with the Communication and Media Commission (CMC) calling for Expressions of Interest regarding a 4th mobile license at the end of 2015, which had not been decided as of early 2017.
Generally speaking, mobile communication is a very popular platform in Iraq, and as a result the fixed telecom sector has slowed. The challenging market conditions presented by Iraq however resulted in both Asiacell and Zain reporting recent declines in their mobile subscriber base. Korek Telecom on the other hand saw a rise in its subscriber numbers and it has been steadily acquiring market share over the past few years.
While growth in the Iraqi telecoms sector is currently influenced by the serious civil unrest occurring in the country; it is expected that there will be opportunities for grow in both the mobile communication and mobile broadband markets in the future as well as increased interest in developing a more robust fixed telecoms sector.
The potential opportunities for mobile broadband growth were demonstrated by Asiacell and Zain Iraq in 2015 when both reported double digit growth for its mobile data revenue year-on-year despite the unstable market conditions. The operators have begun preparing for the future with expectations that mobile data traffic will rise. Asiacell, for example, is upgrading its transmission backbone infrastructure in order to improve service quality.
Mobile money services are increasing in Iraq with Zain recently launching a carrier billing offering and Asiacell introducing Ooredoo's AsiaHawala mobile payment solution.
Key telecom parameters 2014; 2016 Sector | 2014 | 2016 Subscribers to telecoms services (million): (e) Mobile Broadband | 1.25 | 1.27 Fixed-line telephony | 1.94 | 2.25 Mobile phone | 33.00 | 34.10 (Source: BuddeComm based on ITU)
Mobile penetration in Iraq sits at over 90%. The parts of Iraq seized by rebel forces reportedly have very little mobile infrastructure left intact, with residents relying on satellite technology for communications. The most popular mobile plans are pre-paid. The recently introduced 20% tax on mobile services was impacting upon the Zain Groups financials. The fixed telecoms sector has plateaued in Iraq with little investment or interest in developing it at this point. Ericsson has been awarded service contracts in 2016 from both Asiacell and Korek Telecom. Asiacell plans to improve its transmission backbone infrastructure while Korek will deploy Ericsson's User Data Consolidation (UDC) solution. Zain Iraq and Asiacell have both launched an IPO, as required as part of their license agreement and Korek Telecom is still required to do so. Overall the current security situation is an impediment to telecommunications development in Iraq but there are positive signs for the future once stability has been reached. Operators face serious security concerns for both personnel, equipment and infrastructure due to the civil unrest.
Companies covered in this report include:
Iraqi Telephone and Postal Company (ITPC), Newroz Telecom, Asiacell, Zain Iraq, Korek Telecom, Regional Telecom, Communication and Media Commission (CMC), Ericsson.