ANALYSIS: Newroz navigates network around ISIS-affected areas of Iraq

28 October 2015 |


A Kurdistan operator is claiming to have launched a fibre network that navigates ISIS-affected areas of Iraq.

Mohamed Elagazy340Newroz Telecom is claiming to have deployed an IP network linking the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq to Southern Iraq, bypassing ISIS-affected Mosul Dam. 

The operator is said to be the only company licensed by the Kurdish government to operate transit and drop in traffic between Iraq and Turkey, through its service Fastlink. 

“It was very difficult circumstances to build the network. When the ISIS situation developed and they took over Mosul Dam, it separated people completely,” said Mohamed Elagazy, senior advisor of strategy and business development, Newroz Telecom. “We were the only company that was able to immediately deploy new fibre around the area ISIS took over and provide services for people so they could communicate.” 

Operating in the region posed great risk, with Capacity learning that there were casualties in carrying out repairs. “Lots of cuts happened, but we were able to keep deploying around it and have the network up and running,” said Elagazy. 

Newroz Telecom has also launched 4G services in the Kurdistan region during 2015, attracting over 400,000 subscribers. Its 4G coverage includes the main cities of the Kurdistan region, with plans to extend the service to rural areas and major road networks. Elagazy has been encouraged by the early uptake of subscribers: “People realised immediately that to get connected and be able to get on social platforms at such speeds helps to keep spirits up at such a critical time,” he said. 

Newroz Telecom is also hoping to leverage its network across Iraq as part of a major new terrestrial route linking Asia and Europe through the Middle East. 

The Black Sea to Baltic Sea Eurasia Express Project (B2B) is a consortium-backed cable that aims to connect Iraq to Turkey onto Finland, via Ukraine, Belarus, Latvia and Estonia. Elagazy says key Turkish, Ukrainian and Finnish operators are also involved in the project. 

Due for completion in May 2016, the route aims to avoid bottlenecks in Istanbul by transiting via East Turkey. It also hopes to tap into the demand for connectivity from the considerable data centre market in Finland. “The design phase is complete in Iraq and now we are getting ready to connect the network segments together,” added Elagazy. 

The route aims to reduce latency, as well as offer an alternate to the Suez Canal for traffic. It joins other terrestrial initiatives in the region, such as the Alternative Middle East and European Route (AMEER).