8 Sep 2008

CDMA WLL carrier Itisaluna broadens Iraqi presence at GSM>3G Middle East discussions

The fact that I write this from Rio de Janeiro might seem to afford opportunities to say something about the many South American telcos whose representatives I will be meeting tomorrow and on Wednesday. I am out here for our annual Americas Com conference and exhibition, and look forward to the chance to meet old and new friends and contacts from here in Brazil and from markets such as Chile, Uruguary, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. Today, however, we are occupied with the very practical side of getting the event set up, overseeing the construction of the exhibition stands, registration desk etc. We are also recovering from the vast quantities of meat it's customary to tuck into here at dinner time, and from the strength of the caipirinhas. In case any of this is making European readers a little envious, I should point out that the sky outside today is a hazy pale grey and that it's been raining all morning.

Despite the fact that I can see the grey, choppy Atlantic breaking on the Rio beach from my hotel window, I find my thoughts on one the Middle East's more challenging telecoms markets. This is because I just got the very welcome news that the Iraqi contingent on the panel of speakers at our GSM>3G Middle East event in Dubai (December) has now grown to three in total. Having announced CxO-level participants from both Asiacell and Korek Telecom last week, I can now confirm that a further participant joining us from Iraq will be Suleiman Lamaani, CEO of Itisaluna.

Itisaluna focusses on the provision of fixed-wireless voice and date services, having deployed a nationwide CDMA2000 - EVDO Rev. A network. The company states on its website that "this... will help improve social stability in Iraq and contribute to economic growth."

The confirmation of Mr Lamaani's involvement is really gratifying news for me for three reasons. Firstly, Iraq has, I think, been under-represented at previous iterations of our Dubai event - I think we have been remiss in not giving more coverage to a market where the telecoms sector has achieved remarkable growth in the most challenging environment possible. Secondly, as we quoted above in the case of Itisaluna, operators in markets with such a troubled recent history are active, crucial contributors to improving social and economic conditions. So we want to celebrate that at our conference. If anything that happens during the event makes it easier for Iraqi telcos to do business or attract further investment, we will be very pleased with that outcome. Finally, though for the forseeable future, we have no choice but to continue to give our Dubai conference the GSM>3G brand name, we do want to extend the range of technologies and services discussed. Having signed up Bahraini WiMAX-er MENA Telecom last week, it's welcome news that Itisaluna are also joining what was once thought of as purely a GSM community gathering.