Iraqi wireless operator Asiacell announced it has expanded its network to cover the regions of Al-Anbar and Diyala. The company’s services are now available to an additional three million potential subscribers, and now cover all of the country’s 18 governorates. Asiacell CEO, Diar Ahmed, said: ‘Today, Asiacell is at the forefront of Iraq’s mobile telecoms sector, having achieved its goal of becoming the first company to effectively bring its services to every Iraqi citizen, wherever they may be.’ Asiacell is Iraq’s second largest cellco by subscribers and was awarded a 15-year national GSM-900/1800 licence in August 2007 at the cost of USD1.25 billion. At the end of 2008 it had a wireless subscriber base of six million, up from 4.2 million a year earlier.
In a separate story, Middle East Business Intelligence has reported that Iraq’s finance ministers plan to enforce a clause requiring operators to float around 25% of their capital on the Baghdad bourse as a condition of the licences they bought in August 2007. The authorities have given the country’s mobile operators until 2010 to fulfill the new agreement. According to the report, the country’s three largest mobile companies, Asiacell, Zain and Korek Telecom, will make a significant difference to the overall capitalisation of the market, which currently stands at just USD2 billion.