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Zain Iraq, a subsidiary of Kuwait's Zain Group, has selected Ericsson to upgrade its existing network using the Swedish telecom equipment vendor's virtual Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) offering to meet the growing data demands of its customers in the region.

Under this collaboration, Ericsson will modernize the current infrastructure of Zain Iraq's network by implementing a solution that will enable the operator to quickly introduce new services for customers, while maintaining high performance network requirements.

Ericsson will modernize Zain Iraq's existing infrastructure into Ericsson NFV infrastructure (NFVi) solution, which provides a software-defined infrastructure with Hyperscale Datacenter System 8000. Also as part of the solution, Ericsson will provide system integration and support services.

"We trust that Ericsson's Network Functions Virtualization solution will enable us to meet our strategic goals as well as our customers' demands, and continue to provide superior performance while meeting growing data needs," said Ali Al-Zahid, CEO, Zain Iraq.

"This investment and ongoing modernization of our network is yet another example of our dedication to future-proofing our operations for the benefit of all stakeholders," Al-Zahid added. "It also reflects our commitment to providing the mobile community in Iraq with the highest quality of service available, delivered via cutting edge infrastructure and technology to ensure a superior mobile experience for our customers."

Rafiah Ibrahim, President of Ericsson Middle East and Africa said: "Iraq is an important market for mobile network development and innovation. As Iraqi users are passionate adopters of new technology, network modernization and adoption of new technologies become critical to meet Iraqi users' demand for capacity and coverage."

Despite the socio-economic circumstances coupled with the continuation of intense price competition in Iraq, Zain Iraq achieved US$523 million revenues in Q2 due to growth in data usage and numerous customer acquisition initiatives in the northern regions of the country. The operator's efficiency drive saw EBITDA reach US$ 179 million, reflecting a 34 percent EBITDA margin. Net income amounted to US$ 11 million for the period.

Zain Iraq leads the market serving 12.9 million customers.