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February 26, 2004


Baghdad -- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) today announced the integration of 13 new telephone switches and an International Satellite Gateway with the 14 existing switches of the Iraqi Telephone and Postal Company (ITPC) in Baghdad. The new switches and international gateway were installed by USAID partner Bechtel.
Before the conflict, 1.1 million Iraqis, half of which were in Baghdad, subscribed to the ITPC for landline telephone service. A large percentage of the capital city’s switching centers were damaged during the conflict and service disrupted. In Baghdad, 240,000 out of 540,000 telephone lines were out of service at 12 separate exchange sites.

As part of the CPA’s overall Reconstruction Program, USAID and its implementing partner, Bechtel, restored the sites, which allow the ITPC to bring all telephone lines back into operation. Containerized, modern telephone switches were installed and are connected to and being monitored and controlled from the new Network Operations Center at Al Mamoun, the largest site in the country. The ITPC staff is connecting network wiring and programming subscriber numbers to allow final activation of the lines. Over 100,000 individual subscriber lines have now been connected. All fully operational telephones nationwide can access the switch at Al Mamoun and the International Satellite Gateway. Once connected to the gateway, outbound international calls can be made using a prepaid phone card. Active subscribers are now receiving inbound international calls.
USAID and Bechtel collaborated closely with the ITPC on this project. ITPC crews performed much of the work including clearing the rubble and leveling the sites, digging new cable ducts, locating intact cable and splicing cables and wiring of the main distribution frames of the switches.

In addition to the exchange switches, USAID partner Bechtel is restoring portions of the main 2,000 kilometer north-south fiber optic backbone, connecting Dahuk in the far north to Umm Qasr in the extreme south. Connectivity between all cities north and south of Baghdad will deliver the voice and data communications Iraq needs both for its immediate requirements and for future economic development.

In support of the Coalition Provisional Authority’s objectives to restore essential services, USAID is allocating $50 million for improving Iraq’s telecommunications infrastructure. For more information on CPA’s and USAID's reconstruction efforts in Iraq including photos, please visit  and


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