Mobile network ecosystem

Iraq has been one of the last countries in the world to introduce cell phones and the Internet. The main reason is the nature of the political system before 2003. Saddam Hussein's regime kept this sector under its control, and landlines were the only option for people.

After the fall of the Ba’ath party regime in 2003, the mobile phone service started in a limited way. At the beginning, it was poorly managed because there was no organisation to lead the service and due to a lack of experts to manage the telecommunications sector.

In 2004, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), headed by Paul Bremer, issued order No 65. The aim was to develop the telecommunications infrastructure required by a professional organisational structure that would attract investments to the sector and establish a framework for achieving full and fair competition among service providers.

Decree No 65 established the Communications and Media Commission (CMC). According to the Iraqi Constitution and Order No 65, the CMC is an independent, non-profit administrative institution, which is solely responsible for organising and licensing telecommunications, radio and media in the country, and by law must stick to objectivity, transparency and non-racial discrimination in carrying out its duty.

The first permit for mobile phone services was granted in December, 2003 in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq, then another permit for the central region including the capital, Baghdad, then a third licence was issued for the South of the country. These permits expired in December 2005, as they were valid for only two years as defined by the law.

Today, there are two government agencies that run and give license to telecommunications companies in Iraq: CMC and the Ministry of Communications (MOC). MOC operates two government companies: The Public Company of Telecommunications and Post and the General Company for Internet Services.

In June 2005, the Ministry of Communications offered a long-dated licensing process (15-20 years) for cell phone services. But it did not issue these licenses until 2007 when they were granted to three mobile phone companies which got a monopoly of services under a long-dated contract extending to 2022. These companies are Zain, Asiacell and Korektel.