Fast, reliable and affordable connectivity is the cornerstone of developing a modern economy. It allows governments and citizens to engage more meaningfully while enabling businesses to thrive in tough economic conditions. Newroz Holding understands this and, in line with the Kurdistan region of Iraq’s Vision 2025, is investing in new technologies to achieve these economic goals.

In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Ismail Mohamed, CEO of Newroz Holding, which launched Fastlink Telecom to provide superior services, outlines how far the company has come and its vision for the future. 

Tell us a bit more about the history of Newroz Holding.

Newroz Holding was founded in 2007, and in 2013, the company launched Fastlink, a popular brand for the first 4G network in the region. Newroz Holding continues to use strategic global partnerships to deliver on our vision to be the leading provider and communications pioneer in the region. It is our goal to build state-of-the-art telecommunications infrastructure to improve the lives of our customers and deliver a wide range of carrier services. This strategy is centered around our customers’ needs and ambitions to help support their growth and help them maximize their profits. Today, we have more than 1,000 business and technical employees, making Newroz Holding the largest company of its kind in the region. And this helps us continue supporting our community by making a positive contribution to economic, environmental and social progress.

How has the company evolved over the past years, and what has been the reason for this evolution?

Globally, the telecommunications market is shifting, and for operators to remain relevant as markets change, they need to evolve as well. As Newroz Holding, we have recognized this need to evolve along with changing markets, and that is why we are prioritizing the shift from ISP to Digital Service Provider (DSP) to remain aligned with global market shifts.

There are several areas that are critical to keep in mind during this shift in strategy. Firstly, we must always maintain network service quality. For us to help governments and citizens, maintaining a minimum level of strength and quality of service for our customers is critical. The second area is making strides in the dispersal of open data, and the third is to ensure that we put the technology in place to support economic recovery and ensure business resilience in a changing environment. Connectivity has become crucial to everyday life, and it is our goal to ensure that we play a fundamental role in this. This is where strategic partnerships with global leaders such as Nokia are instrumental across different domains, from IP infrastructure (the first 400G introduction in Iraq in 2021) and improving the 4G network, to being the fastest broadband in KRG.

Newroz Holding has developed a great interaction with the health infrastructure system by providing Fast Care platforms in cooperation with the ministry of health of KRG to treat severe cases of COVID and cancers for the past two years. We are still getting involved to improve the health sectors by interconnecting up-to-date technology with the medical sectors. Newroz Holding has a great record in protecting the country and the territory by providing DAS technology and massive surveillance systems that are currently managed by the regional government. 

We need to focus on the needs of the DSP, where many ecosystems will be provided by Newroz Holding and its subsidiaries to be a part of the people and community of our nation. We need to not only offer high-speed internet; we need to have more of an ecosystem to serve the current needs and future visions. 

How is Newroz Holding supporting Kurdistan’s Vision 2025?

Vision 2025 is a long-term development plan for the region, to chart a better future for the nation, one that provides a better quality of life for all. As a nation, we have faced enormous challenges throughout our history, but even more so in recent years. That said, the nation has always been resilient in face of all challenges. The Vision takes a comprehensive look at the main challenges facing us today and then sets long-term goals to overcome those challenges and strengthen our resilience as a nation even further. The Vision is underpinned by four main pillars: citizens, society and national identity; public sector and governance systems; economy and productivity; and the environment, which all tie back to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

At Newroz Holding, we are supporting Vision 2025 by focusing on integrity, modesty and patience, meeting the needs of people and providing services at reasonable pricing. We are also focused on implementing cutting-edge technology that enriches the lives of our customers.

We recognize that we need to move toward a sustainable business model as we shift from traditional service providers to digital service providers (DSPs) that provide the functional platform that enables the customers to go to market (e.g., using self-service mobile payment apps to pay utility bills generated by smart meters) with our sister e-wallets firm and digital banking firm.

By categorizing users according to their behaviors, Newroz Holding can better organize its network infrastructure, and as a result, we will be able to assess and modernize our geographical networks with an eye on reducing costs while improving service to customers. In the end, our client engagement will grow, and our CAPEX (cost of initial capital expenditure) will decrease.

What will the impact be for your customers?

The impact for our customers will be improved connectivity with a seamless, end-to-end experience and readily accessible services that meet their special requirements. More particularly, citizens in the region will have access to all government services through any medium and at any time. Services will be intuitive, available and interconnected so that citizens can do all their official business through a single portal, and the user experience across digital services will be unified.

This will have a constructive impact and aid in the growth of our community's economic and social infrastructure, while also providing improved healthcare and education services and broader access to government services, with improved capacity and capability to effectively govern the digital estate in the region.

How have your technology partners been strategically helping Newroz Holding achieve its vision?

Our commitment to collaborating with the government to deliver a strong and resilient network is essential to our company's development as a technological leader. And technology partners like Nokia, with its wide-ranging product portfolio and rich global experience in professional services, will help us accomplish these goals and provide our customers with world-class services.

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