| DUBAI, March 14
DUBAI, March 14 Iraq's Korek Telecom hopes
to launch a third-generation (3G) network this year, but is
waiting for the government to release the necessary spectrum,
the operator's chief executive said on Wednesday.
Korek, in which France Telecom and Kuwait's Agility
own stakes, claims a 70 percent market share in the
country's Kurdish region in the north.
Yet its overall share of Iraqi mobile subscribers is just 13
percent and launching 3G, which would allow for faster Internet
connections on mobile phones, could help it win customers from
2G operators Asiacell, an affiliate of Qatar Telecom,
and Zain Iraq, part of Kuwait's Zain.
"The promise of the regulator and the ministry is that we
should have 3G soon, so we are waiting for them to figure it
out," Ghada Gebara, Korek chief executive, told Reuters by
telephone. "They are serious about it, so it's just a question
Gebara said she hoped Korek would launch 3G services this
"We already have the right to use any technology we want in
our licence, the idea is to get the right frequency," she said.
The government has yet to decide whether it will charge a
fee for the new spectrum, Gebara said, adding extra fees would
raise tariffs and slow down investment in new technologies to
increase internet penetration.
"The more money you pay, it's the customer that will pay,"
The three Iraqi national operators were required to launch
initial public offerings to sell 25 percent of their shares by
August 2011 as part of their $1.25 billion licences issued in
All have yet to do so, with the local bourse seemingly
ill-equipped to support listings that would likely double its
market capitalisation. More than six months since the deadline
passed, Gebara said she did not know if Korek would IPO this
"It's not dependent on us," she said. "It's the government
that needs to put in the right framework."
Gebara said Korek had no coordination with fellow operators
Zain Iraq and Asiacell on when they would each launch an IPO.
"Each company is operating on their own," added Gebara.
(Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by Firouz Sedarat)