- Obama’s regulatory agenda will cost U.S. economy $143B next year: report
- Patriot Act author on James Clapper: Fire, prosecute him
- Russia P.M. Medvedev: No amnesty for political prisoners
- Michigan GOP Senate hopeful reminds government is the ‘servant’
- Christmas, by Congress: Members mull a 15-cent tax on trees
- U.S. unemployment falls to five-year low of 7 percent; 203K jobs added
- World mourns Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life; burial set for Dec. 15
- Bill O’Reilly reminds: Nelson Mandela ‘was a communist’
- John Boehner says GOP should support gay candidates: ‘I do’
- Grass-Whopper: Pan-fried cricket burgers go over big in New York City
Baghdad phone service back
Question of the Day
From combined dispatches
BAGHDAD — Baghdad’s residents by the end of March will be able to make calls from across the Iraqi capital as repairs are completed on 11 telephone exchanges destroyed by U.S. bombing during the war last year.
Al-Mamoun, the last exchange to be replaced, was opened yesterday, and Iraqi technicians have begun hooking up tens of thousands of subscribers without telephone service for almost a year.
“This has been a giant achievement, considering the security situation. We expect all subscribers to be hooked back up by the end of March,” Telecom Minister Haidar al-Ebadi said during a ceremony to open al-Mamoun.
A U.S. force of tanks stood guard around the complex, Baghdad’s main communications site.
Lucent Technologies supplied the switches for the $50 million project, managed by Bechtel, which was awarded major U.S. contracts in postwar Iraq.
Telephone service will be free until a new billing system is set up.
Baghdad, a city of more than 5 million people, had 540,000 land lines before the war. Phone services covered less than 4 percent of the Iraqi population, as economic sanctions prevented access to maintenance parts and expanding the network.
Mr. al-Ebadi said the Iraqi Governing Council’s goal is to make phones available to more than 10 percent of all Iraqis by the end of the year.
“We consider the telephone service to be very vital to the Iraqi public, very vital to the economy, very vital to Iraqi security,” he said.
Iraq’s telecommunications system was partially rebuilt after the 1991 Persian Gulf war despite the sanctions. The U.S.-led invasion last year destroyed the 11 telephone exchanges in Baghdad, one in Samarra to the north and part of the fiber-optics network. Postwar looting increased the damage.
The al-Mamoun exchange was destroyed by cruise missiles. Looters then stripped the building, taking equipment and records, leaving the center a battered shell. They also dug up large sections of phone cable and melted it down to sell the valuable copper inside.
Baghdad’s communications improved this month after a cell-phone network built by Egypt’s Orascom Telecom began operations.
The network covers one-third of greater Baghdad but will encompass the center of the country in a year.
- Spike in battlefield deaths linked to restrictive rules of engagement
- Bill OReilly reminds: Nelson Mandela was a communist
- Activists urge Obama to go rogue, sidestep Congress
- Colorado judge: Bakery owner discriminated against gay couple
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Obama administration issues permits for wind farms to kill more eagles
- Rush Limbaugh: Obama trying to make Mandela death about himself
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality
- U.S. debt jumps a record $328 billion tops $17 trillion for first time
- Kill team: Obama war chiefs widen drone death zones
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
The Constitution: Every issue, every time. No exceptions, no excuses. And how to get from here to there.
Why can’t humans just be free to be humans?
Get in the middle of all the action inside and outside the boxing ring.
Find the latest news and happening that effect those in the Washington D.C., Northern Virginia and Maryland Metro region.
White House pets gone wild!