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Sun 19 Apr 2009 04:30 PM

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Iraqi operator says ‘jamming’ devices to blame for poor call quality

Asiacell CEO defends mobile coverage and says security forces are cause of problem

Iraqi mobile operator Asiacell has called on the government to acknowledge that the increased use of equipment by security forces to disrupt radio frequencies is the cause of poor mobile phone coverage in the country.

Asiacell CEO, Dr Diar Ahmed, told CommsMEA that there had been a recent surge in complaints with some customers claiming that they are unable to make calls despite their phones registering a full signal. Others have complained of degradation in call quality with some calls unexpectedly terminated and some with an echo effect present.

Dr Ahmed said that since the first week of March engineers had detected an increase in the amount of “heavy external interference” on the frequencies used by Asiacell in the Baghdad, Mosul and Baquba areas of Iraq, which he attributed to the use of ‘jammer’ devices by security forces.

“[The government and the ministry of communication] blame the mobile companies for not investing and not trying their best to improve the network, which is not right,” Dr Ahmed said.

“We understand that using jamming devices is maybe a necessary measure to tackle the security issues in Iraq, and maybe the external parties are in favour of using these interference measurements to tackle the security issue. We understand this.

“What we do not understand is that the government is blaming us and especially the ministry of communication is putting the public relation machine to work to attack mobile companies while we cannot do anything about this external interference.”

Such devices are banned in many countries because it is difficult to confine the disruption to a limited area.However, ‘jamming’ technology is considered by security forces to be a vital tool in countering the threat of roadside bombs and improvised explosive devices that are often detonated using mobile devices.

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