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Iraq Government Looking to Auction 3G Licenses

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Iraq's government is seeking to sell its 3G licenses to the incumbent mobile networks for at least USD307 million each.

The country's three national mobile networks are currently limited to GSM services, and while customer growth was initially considerable in a country that lacked reliable telecommunications, the lack of 3G services has been a drag in the past couple of years.

Last week the Council of Ministers agreed in principle to auction 3G licences, Ahmed Alomary, a former commissioner at the Communications and Media Commission (CMC), told Reuters.

The reserve price has been set at USD307 million, although that is currently just indicative and could change. The mobile networks, who paid USD1.25 billion each for their licenses in 2007 have long argued that they shouldn't have to pay extra for 3G approvals.

The auction will also be open to new entrants to the market after plans to automatically award the licenses to the three incumbent operators was rejected.

There could also be a regulatory hurdle as Zain and Korek have not listed their shares on the stock market, as required by their GSM licenses. The government may need to find a way around that to let them bid in the 3G license tender.

On the web: Reuters

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Tags: 3g license  Iraq