Phone service coming soon. I hope this makes it easier for the soldiers to stay in touch.
Iraq awarded its first nationwide mobile telephone licenses to three Middle Eastern companies on Monday, saying it expected service to begin by the end of the month.
Iraq awarded the phone contracts to Orascom of Egypt and Atheer Tel and Asia Cell, both largely Kuwaiti-owned.
"The service should start in a few weeks, we have been told by the end of the month," said the interim telecommunications minister, Haidar al-Abbadi.
But officials from the companies selected said it would take longer before the service could be operational in Iraq, where mobile phones were banned in the 1990's under trade sanctions imposed by the United Nations.
The mobile network should restore some constancy to the country's phone communications, which were severely damaged in the American invasion of Iraq in the spring.
Orascom's concession will include the crucial Baghdad area.