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 mid-2016.
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 in 2015 when it 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 | 29.00
(Source: publisher based on ITU)
Mobile penetration in Iraq sits at around 81%.
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.
Early reports in 2016 saw Zain Iraq experiencing a further decline in subscriber numbers. The recently introduced 20% tax on mobile services was also impacting upon the 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. SHOW LESS READ MORE >
1. Executive summary
2. Key statistics
2.1 Country overview
3. Telecommunications market
3.1 Recent developments
3.2 Historical overview
3.3 Market overview
4. Regulatory environment
4.1 Historic overview
4.2 Regulatory authority
4.3 Telecom sector liberalisation in Iraq
4.3.1 Wireless Local Loop licences
5. Fixed network operator in Iraq
5.1 Iraqi Telephone and Postal Company (ITPC)
6. Telecommunications infrastructure
6.1 Overview of the national telecom network
6.2 International infrastructure
6.2.1 Submarine cable networks
6.2.2 Satellite networks
7. Smart infrastructure
7.1 Smart grids
8. Broadband access market
8.1.1 Internet statistics
8.2 Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) and Fibre-To-The-Home (FttH)
8.3 Satellite broadband
9. Other fixed broadband services
9.1 Fixed wireless (WiFi and WiMAX)
10. Digital economy
11. Digital media
11.2 Social media
11.2.2 Statistical information
11.3 Communications: VoIP, messaging, conferencing
12. Mobile communications
12.1 Market analysis
12.1.1 Mobile statistics
12.2 Mobile subscriber forecasts
12.2.1 Scenario 1 higher growth
12.2.2 Scenario 2 lower growth
12.3 Mobile broadband statistics
12.4 Regulatory issues
12.4.1 Temporary mobile licences awarded in 2003
12.4.2 Permanent licences awarded in 2007
12.4.3 Fourth mobile licence
12.5 Mobile infrastructure
12.5.3 Satellite mobile
12.6 Major mobile operators
12.6.1 Asiacell Communications
12.6.2 Zain Iraq (formerly MTC Atheer)
12.6.3 Korek Telecom
12.6.4 Regional Telecom / Fastlink
12.7 Mobile data
12.7.1 Mobile Messaging
12.7.2 Mobile Internet access
12.8 Mobile content and applications
12.9 m-banking and m-payments
13. Related reports
Table 1 Country statistics - Iraq 2016
Table 2 - Telephone network statistics 2016
Table 3 - Mobile statistics 2016
Table 4 National telecommunications authorities
Table 5 GDP growth and inflation 2006 - 2016
Table 6 Fixed lines in service and teledensity - 1990 - 2016
Table 7 Internet user penetration and estimates 2001 - 2016
Table 8 International Internet bandwidth 2005 - 2013
Table 9 - Facebook Stats for Iraq compared to other Middle East countries as at August 2016
Table 10 Mobile subscribers and penetration rate 2002 - 2016
Table 11 Mobile operator market shares 2004 2015
Table 12 Forecast mobile subscribers higher growth scenario 2020; 2025
Table 13 Forecast mobile subscribers lower growth scenario 2020; 2025
Table 14 Active mobile broadband subscriptions 2014; 2015
Table 15 Asiacell financial data (including ARPU) 2006 Q2 2015
Table 16 Asiacell subscribers 2006 - 2015
Table 17 Zain Iraq financial data 2006 1H 2015
Table 18 Zain Iraq mobile subscribers 2006 2015
Table 19 Zain Iraq prepaid subscribers 2006 - 2014
Table 20 Korek Telecom subscribers 2013 - 2015
Table 21 Zain total daily data volume 2010 - 2014
Chart 1 Iraq - fixed lines versus mobile subscribers 2006 2016
Exhibit 1 Background information - Orascom Telecom Iraq Corporation/Iraqna