An internet cafe in Baghdad. Photo: AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Iraqi government has told internet companies to slash their prices by 50 percent. The decision, however, does not apply to providers working in or licensed by the Kurdistan Region.
“The Ministry of Communications started implementing its plans to lower the price of old and new internet capacities by 50 percent,” read a statement published by the Iraqi Ministry of Communications on Tuesday.
The decision covers companies licensed by the ministry. “The ministry hopes this new price policy will reflect [positively] on the beneficiaries and the quality of the offered services to all citizens and governmental institutions will see improvement,” the ministry added.
The aim is to establish price stability in the market and create a culture of competition that will improve the quality of the services. This is not the first time the ministry has intervened to lower prices.
The decision, however, does not include more than 60 internet companies working in the Kurdistan Region that are licensed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)’s Ministry of Transport and Communications.
“We lowered the prices by 30 percent two years ago. The internet companies working in Kurdistan have obtained their licenses from the Kurdistan Region, not Baghdad. That is why we abide by the instructions issued by the Ministry of Transport and Communications of the Kurdistan Region,” Fatih Ahmed, spokesperson of Newroz Telecom, told Rudaw.
The KRG says the price of internet services is a matter for the companies.
“In the contracts with these companies there is no mention of prices. Meaning they are at liberty to choose prices for their internet services,” Omed Salih, spokesperson for the Ministry of Transports and Communications, told Rudaw.
The KRG monitors the quality of internet services, while the companies themselves determine their prices.
Citizens, however, are dissatisfied with of the huge range of service providers and the widely differing prices. Many feel they are not getting good value for their money.
“There are some internet providers that are expensive but have low quality. It needs to be solved. There should one internet provider taking good care to pay attention [to the internet services], which is better for the people,” one customer, Karzan Mohammed, told Rudaw.
Others are pleased with the coverage provided for the price.
“In Kurdistan, we have no issues with the internet. Our internet is good and its quality is good too,” another user, Shkar Noory, told Rudaw.
Some 35 percent of people in the Kurdistan Region are online.