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In one of the largest deals of its kind in the Middle East, Zain, one of Iraq’s leading mobile telecommunications providers, has signed a US$650 million five-year network outsourcing agreement with Ericsson, the world’s leading provider of telecommunications technology and services and its local partner SIM (Service in Motion).

Under this agreement, Ericsson will optimize, modernize and manage IT operations and Zain’s mobile network in Iraq that currently includes more than 3,700 sites across the country. This agreement also extends to the northern region of Kurdistan where Zain has recently launched commercial services and is expanding to meet customer demand.

This is a significant deal for Zain as the agreement is expected to enhance the company’s competitiveness in the Iraqi market. Zain served over 12.4 million active customers in Iraq as of 30 September 2011. The deal with Ericsson will enable Zain to increase its focus on its core customer facing business activities such as managing its customer relationships and to offer a shorter time-to-market for offering new services and technologies. The arrangement with Ericsson has the objective of improving network efficiency, reducing operating costs and optimizing Zain’s investment in Iraq.

The deal also gives Ericsson its first major managed services agreement in Iraq, reflecting the increased attention of both companies on the growing Iraqi market.

Mr Nabeel Bin Salamah, Zain Group CEO said:

Through this agreement, Zain in Iraq will be better positioned to support the evolution and growth of the Iraqi telecommunication industry. Zain Group’s investment in Iraq since the launch of commercial services in 2003 and the subsequent development of the country’s largest mobile network has exceeded US$4.5 billion and we will do our utmost in ensuring that all Iraqis receive the urgently-needed quality mobile telecommunication services they deserve.”

Emad Makiya, CEO of Zain Iraq, confident that the outsourcing agreement will have many benefits for the company and its customers, commented:

Choosing Ericsson, which has well over 15 years’ experience in managing outsourced networks in partnership with SIM to help operate our network in Iraq, fits perfectly within our business objectives of improving efficiency and the quality of our networks and operations. As a result, we will be in a stronger position to dedicate resources and assets to our core business operations, continuing to improve customer support, developing and launching new products, services and mobile applications, and delivering on the Zain brand promise of ‘A wonderful world’.

Anders Lindblad, President of Ericsson Region Middle East, said:

This agreement will allow Zain to strengthen its competitiveness in this growing market and allow them to focus on providing an improved experience to its mobile services subscribers. Ericsson has more than 45,000 service professionals and over 15,000 sourced resources, working with the same tools, methods and processes globally. We are now welcoming additions to that through the knowledge and expertise of the Zain employees in Iraq.

Following its recent expansion to northern Kurdistan, Zain plans to invest in its network infrastructure in the coming years to increase its network coverage in the country. The company’s Corporate Social Responsibility support programs have stretched across many needy areas over the years, with Zain Iraq’s total contributions exceeding US$25 million to date. The company employs over 2,500 Iraqi nationals who regularly undergo professional training and advancement programs.

(Source: Zain)

Preparing for the future, Ericsson will replace and upgrade Zain’s network by introducing a single-RAN (Radio Access Network) platform, the latest advanced multi-technology, multi-standard and multi-band platform. This more advanced technology combined with Ericsson’s managed services offering built on improved quality of service and operational efficiency is a step towards giving Zain in Iraq the ability to launch and support 3G technology, and improve its customer experience.

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