Iraq seeks bidders for mobile phone licenses

Iraq will be offering new tenders for licenses to operate mobile phones in the country after the existing licenses expire, an Associated Press report said.

Three companies currently operate in Iraq: Iraqna, AsiaCell, and Atheer, according to the report.

The report quoted Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, as saying that a committee had been formed to review the bids.

It was not clear, however, when the tender would be offered.

Iraqi officials had not specified how much the new contracts would be worth, or given details on the exact timing of the tender announcement, the report said.

Iraqna, a subsidiary of the Egyptian firm Orascom Telecommunications, a major regional communications company, mainly operates in central Iraq and has 2.5 million active subscribers.

Its contract would expire September 30, and the company confirmed it was interested in bidding for the tender, the report said.

Atheer, the Iraqi unit of Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications, operates in southern Iraq and AsiaCell operates in the country's northern part.

Officials at both companies could not be reached to provide details of when their contracts would expire, the report said.

Iraqna was first awarded the license to operate in Iraq in October 2003 after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and its commercial launch in December of that year marked the first time mobile phones were used in Baghdad, the report further said.