Telecommunications in Iraq

Telecommunications in Iraq include radio, television, fixed and mobile telephones, and the Internet as well as the postal system.

Radio and televisionEdit

The number of private radio and TV stations has increased rapidly since 2003.[1] Iraqis get much of their news from TV. Radio listening has declined in tandem with the rise of TV. For private media, advertising revenues seldom produce a reliable income.[2]

  • Radio stations:
    • government-owned radio stations are operated by the publicly funded Iraqi Public Broadcasting Service; private broadcast media are mostly linked to political, ethnic, or religious groups; transmissions of multiple international radio broadcasters are available (2007);[1]
    • ~80 stations (2004).
  • Television stations:
    • government-owned TV stations are operated by the publicly funded Iraqi Public Broadcasting Service; private broadcast media are mostly linked to political, ethnic, or religious groups; satellite TV is available to an estimated 70% of viewers and many of the broadcasters are based abroad (2007);[1]
    • ~21 stations (2004).
  • Radios: ~4.6 million (1997).[needs update]
  • Television sets: ~1.8 million television sets (1997). It has been reported that 88% of households in Iraq have television (2004).[3]

During the reign of Saddam Hussein, broadcasting was largely the domain of the Iraqi Broadcasting and Television Establishment (IBTE). The IBTE, in turn, was dominated by the Ministry of Information. The IBTE often broadcast programming favorable toward Saddam Hussein, including music videos praising him and poetry readings when the station was down. Most IBTE transmitters were in the Baghdad area with a few regional stations. The IBTE aired former CBS reporter Dan Rather's interview with Saddam Hussein, as well as the news from Baghdad Bob during the run up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the IBTE was dissolved.[4][5][6]

The current regulator is the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission,[7] and the public broadcaster is the Iraqi Media Network,[8] successor to the Coalition Provisional Authority's and several other radio and television stations. The Iraqi Media Network currently operates the Radio of the Republic of Iraq and the government supported al-Iraqiya TV station. Many private TV stations are also available, such as the popular Al Sharqiya. Up to 97% of homes have a satellite dish and there are more than 30 Iraq-facing satellite networks. Iraqi radio stations showcase the diversity of popular opinion, from hard-line Islamic fundamentalism to Radio Sawa, politically oriented stations, and stations featuring content appealing to Kurdish listeners. In the northern autonomous Kurdish enclaves, rival political factions operate their own media.[2]

The BBC World Service broadcasts in Iraq, as does the American Forces Network (AFN) and British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS). Other foreign radio stations operating within Iraq include the UAE's Middle East Broadcasting Centre (MBC), Paris-based Monte Carlo Doualiya, Moyen-Orient, and Radio France International (RFI).[2]


The 2003 Iraq War severely disrupted telecommunications throughout Iraq, including international connections. The Iraq Reconstruction Management Office (IRMO) under the U.S. State Department assisted the Iraqi Ministry of Communications by advising on the repair of switching capability and helping to devise the regulatory framework and licensing regimes for construction of mobile and satellite communications facilities. Many people and companies were involved in the reconstruction including private and public telecommunications companies from the United States, China, Turkey, and the Middle East. Special recognition must be given to the government of Japan and the World Bank Group for funding the first national microwave networks. Most credit goes to the staff of the Ministry of Communications and their operating personnel, and the numerous large and small service providers, who persevere under difficult working conditions. USAID funded several IT training programs with excellent international specialists as trainers and teachers.[citation needed]

Today the system has undergone a remarkable transformation with high rates of annual investment and a functioning regulatory system, that is not quite independent of the political process, but still provides the framework for a competitive telecommunications regime. In 2013-2014 the system is under stress from renewed fighting between different political factions in Iraq.


Under the government of Saddam Hussein, Internet access was tightly controlled and very few people were thought to be online; in 2002 it was estimated that only 25,000 Iraqis used the Internet. With his ouster, Internet usage has become commonplace. Uruklink, originally the sole Iraqi Internet service provider, now faces competition from other ISPs, including broadband satellite Internet access services from both Middle East and European VSAT hubs. The primary military telecom service provider in Iraq is Ts 2.[19] Since 2006 several more companies have emerged to provide options to individual Iraqis that make Internet access more affordable, albeit with less bandwidth. One such business is Advanced Technology Systems-Iraq (ATS-Iraq).[20]

Some ISPs in Iraq's capital, Baghdad, are:[citation needed]

  • BaghTel established in Baghdad in May 2003.[21] It started as the first cybercafe in Baghdad after the Iraq War; utilizing VSAT internet and Engine-generators due to total lack of infrastructure after the war.[22] It then evolved into a fast-growing ISP. Sixteen years in the market, BaghTel now specializes in high-SLA IPLC services. BaghTel's typical clientele is embassies and foreign companies due to the high SLAs it offers.
  • MASARAT telecom, offering speeds up to 128KB kilobyte and it is one of the worst Internet in Iraq;
  • FastIraq, which provides business & residential services across all of Iraq with multiple routes & nodes in Baghdad, Basra & Erbil Iraq[23]
  • EarthLink Telecommunications,[24] a limited liability company in Iraq. It was established in 2005,[25] and during12 years of establishment, it managed to become one of the biggest service provider in Iraq with 15 province coverage,[26] with 102 dedicated teams and 1600 WiFi locations.[25]
  • Rose Telecom, providing speeds up to 0/7.7 Mbit/s in off-peak times and 912/128 kbit/s at peak; and
  • ATS-Iraq, which targets the home and single user demographic.
  • TigrisNet is a main primary provider offering MPLS among other services. TigrisNet holds the highest SLA by managing multiple routes and has been the major Intelsat satellite provider in Iraq.[27]
  • Alhayat-isp which provide a good dedicated service with real IPs and full backup during fiber cut
  • ScopeSky Communications, ScopeSky Company for Communications and Internet services is the main partner of Iraqi Ministry of Communication. It is the first Iraqi Company that holds an authorization from the Ministry of Communication the Iraq Telecoms and Post Company (ITPC) in 2009 for operating and maintaining the national fiber optic network in Iraq and linking it with the neighbor countries and the world through multiple terrestrial and submarine borders. ScopeSky has customers spanning Telecom, Banking, Oil & Gas, Construction & Real Estate companies.[28]
  • AlsardFiber registered in 2007 and is one of the largest firms with more than 5000 km its own fiber optic backbone in all of Iraq (including Kurdistan region) with wide range of the IP services[29]
  • Vizocom, one of the providers of internet over satellite (VSAT) and fiber in Iraq. It has been serving embassies, multi-national companies including oil and gas companies, defense contractors, as well as government agencies since 2010.[30]

Because of the reduction in usage and capability of the land line infrastructure since 2004, all Iraqi ISPs use wireless technology to provide Internet service to their customers. The Iraqi people await the repair and equipping of the country's telecommunications infrastructure to allow for land-based Internet access methods, such as Cable Internet and DSL.[citation needed]

Internet censorship and surveillanceEdit

In August 2009 the OpenNet Initiative found no evidence of Internet filtering in Iraq in all four of the areas for which they test (political, social, conflict/security, and Internet tools).[31]

There are no overt government restrictions on access to the Internet or official acknowledgement that the government monitors e-mail or Internet chat rooms without judicial oversight. NGOs report that the government could and was widely believed to monitor e‑mail, chat rooms, and social media sites through local Internet service providers.[32]

The constitution broadly provides for the right of free expression, provided it does not violate public order and morality or express support for the banned Baath Party or for altering the country's borders by violent means. In practice the main limitation on individual and media exercise of these rights is self-censorship due to real fear of reprisals by the government, political parties, ethnic and sectarian forces, terrorist and extremist groups, or criminal gangs. Libel and defamation are offenses under the penal law and the 1968 Publications Law with penalties of up to seven years' imprisonment for publicly insulting the government.[32]

After the release and media amplification of the controversial "Innocence of Muslims" Internet video in September 2012, Christian groups reported an increase in death threats. One militant group called the Brigade of the Straight Path issued an ultimatum to Christians in Mosul to leave or be killed. The government provided additional security in Christian neighborhoods following the threat. There were no deaths or attacks related to the threat, and the government reduced security to normal levels by the end of 2012.[32]

The constitution mandates that authorities may not enter or search homes except with a judicial order. The constitution also prohibits arbitrary interference with privacy. In practice security forces often entered homes without search warrants and took other measures interfering with privacy, family, and correspondence.[32]

In 2011 when a documentary filmmaker and author of a prominent blog organized the video coverage of peaceful protests over the Internet via a short, nonsubscription messaging service, he was beaten on 22 April and again on 22 July, allegedly by individuals in civilian clothing linked to the security forces and by army officers as he attempted to videotape demonstrations in Tahrir Square for his blog. He went into hiding, and a few days after the second attack police searched his house. He later resumed blogging.[33]

Postal systemEdit

As part of the post-invasion social and economic infrastructure reconstruction program, a contract worth $55 million was awarded to study the postal system in Iraq. The Postal system of Iraq was organized following that study.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  •   This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook document: "2014 edition".
  •   This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Department of State.
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Communications: Iraq", World Factbook, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, 28 January 2014. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b c "Iraq Profile: Media", BBC News, 22 August 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  3. ^ "7.5. Total television households and digital households, 2001-2003". doi:10.1787/435882050446. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ World Radio Television Handbook (WRTH), 1990, 2003, and 2005.
  5. ^ MSN Encarta Online Encyclopedia, out-of-print.
  6. ^ "Saddam Music Videos", video clips from the Frontline PBS documentary the "Survival of Saddam", 25 January 2000.
  7. ^ Iraqi Communications and Media Commission Archived 1 August 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Archived 1 August 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Dialing Procedures (International Prefix, National (Trunk) Prefix and National (Significant) Number) (in Accordance with ITY-T Recommendation E.164 (11/2010)), Annex to ITU Operational Bulletin No. 994-15.XII.2011, International Telecommunication Union (ITU, Geneva), 15 December 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
  10. ^ DataReportal (3 February 2019). "Digital 2019 Iraq (January 2019) v01". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  11. ^ "Greg's Cable Map", Greg Mahlknecht, 19 December 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  12. ^ DataReportal (3 February 2019). "Digital 2019 Iraq (January 2019) v01". Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ a b Calculated using penetration rate and population data from "Countries and Areas Ranked by Population: 2012" Archived 29 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Population data, International Programs, U.S. Census Bureau, retrieved 26 June 2013
  14. ^ "Percentage of Individuals using the Internet 2000-2012", International Telecommunications Union (Geneva), June 2013, retrieved 22 June 2013
  15. ^ "Fixed (wired)-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012", Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
  16. ^ "Active mobile-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants 2012", Dynamic Report, ITU ITC EYE, International Telecommunication Union. Retrieved on 29 June 2013.
  17. ^ Select Formats Archived 13 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Country IP Blocks. Accessed on 2 April 2012. Note: Site is said to be updated daily.
  18. ^ Population, The World Factbook, United States Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on 2 April 2012. Note: Data are mostly for 1 July 2012.
  19. ^ "Satellite Broadband Internet in Iraq and Afghanistan for U.S. Troops" Archived 24 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine, Press release, TS2 Satellite Technologies in PRNewswire, 22 January 2009.
  20. ^ "Advanced Technology Systems - Iraq", website.
  21. ^ "Baghdad Telecom, Internet Service Provider in Iraq, Iraqi ISP". Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  22. ^ "Lacking water and power, Iraqis run out of patience in the searing summer heat". The Guardian. 16 August 2003. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  23. ^ "FastIraq – ISP". Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  24. ^ "Home - Earthlink Telecom".
  25. ^ a b "About us". Earthlink. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  26. ^ "Coverage map". Earthlink. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  27. ^ [1],
  28. ^ "ScopeSky Communications LLC". ScopeSky Communications LLC. Retrieved 15 May 2020.
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Mobile Satellite Internet Connectivity Solutions Providers Africa". Vizocom - Satellite Internet, VSAT, Internet over Fiber. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  31. ^ "ONI Country Profile: Iraq", OpenNet Initiative, 10 August 2009
  32. ^ a b c d "Iraq", Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 22 April 2013. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
  33. ^ "Iraq", Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 25 May 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2014.

External linksEdit