As quickly as wireless devices are obsoleting and replacing landlines
in developed nations, needless to say, it's going down even quicker in a country where the landline infrastructure has been largely destroyed by war and a lack of investment. Less than 4 percent of Iraqis rock wired phones, relying almost exclusively on a cellular infrastructure currently being serviced by three short-term contracts awarded by the US in 2003. Those contracts are about to expire, though, making way for three longer-term licenses that'll be good for 15 years. Bidding started at $300 million plus 18 percent revenue sharing with the Iraqi government; when all was said and done, the licenses sold for a princely total of $3.75 billion. The winners were Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications and Asiacell along with Iraq's own Korek Telecom, all three of which already operate networks in the country. Should be a smooth transition, then -- for the sake of subscribers, let's try to keep billing issues to a minimum, shall we?