CDMA Battles On
Despite initial speculation that the GSM standard would be deployed -- following the award of two minor GSM-based infrastructure projects earlier this year (see MCI's Iraq Offensive and GSMA Cheers Iraq Deployment) -- no firm decision on a regional rollout for the dominant global standard has yet been made.
According to Lieutenant Colonel Ken McClellan from the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. authorities have not written off the possibility of CDMA technology being used in the rebuilding of Iraq’s wireless networks. “As far as the long-term projects involving the rebuilding of infrastructure over there are concerned, the assumption that it is yet to be decided is accurate,” he tells Unstrung. “We haven’t finalized plans to go beyond the initial projects.”
McClellan is unable to confirm when a final decision will be taken.
Recent media reports suggest that the country is to be divided into three distinct regions -- north, central, and south -- with carriers able to monopolize a single region. According to analysts, such a split could give CDMA technology the opportunity to gain a foothold in at least one area of the country.
“You cannot dismiss CDMA,” comments Paolo Pescatore, senior analyst at IDC. “There is certainly scope for the technology to be deployed.”
The choice of wireless technology in Iraq has already provoked a fierce war of words between proponents of the two competing standards.
In March, CDMA supporter and American congressman Darrell Issa riled GSM Association CEO Rob Conway with his belief that the region required the “superior U.S. technology” (CDMA), rather than the “outdated French standard” (see US Rep: Vive la CDMA! and GSMA: Back Off, Darrell! for more).
— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung