Iraq Thursday signed a $445-million deal with the telecommunications company Gulf Bridge International to link the country to the Gulf and India via a high-speed fibre optic cable.
Announcing the deal at a press conference in Qatar, Iraqi Minister of Telecommunications Faruq Abdel-Qadir said the modernisation of Iraq's communications infrastructure was at least as important to the country as the contracts Iraq recently signed with international companies to develop its oil fields.
The cable would further improve data links between Europe and Asia, Abdel-Qadir said, adding that at least five additional undersea cables would be needed to meet future bandwidth demands.
Abdel-Qadir told DPA that the Iraqi government was "not satisfied" with the service offered by the three mobile phone companies operating in the country.
Iraq Tuesday announced it was in talks with companies for a fourth mobile phone licence.
The cabinet in July approved plans to set up a fourth mobile phone network. AsiaCell, Kuwait's Zain Group, and Korek Telecom now hold Iraq's three mobile phone licences.
In May, the Iraqi government fined the companies for poor service. Zain was ordered to pay $18.6 million, Korek $1.2 million and AsiaCell $1.1 million.
Ahmed Mekky, CEO of Gulf Bridge International, told DPA that the company is now studying the possibility extending the cable to Syria.
"The project will represent a leap in connecting the Gulf region with the world," he said. "This is the project's main goal."