Lucent to restore Iraq phone network

Construction giant Bechtel taps Lucent Technologies in a $25 million deal to help rebuild Iraq's shattered telephone infrastructure.

Ben Charny Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Ben Charny
covers Net telephony and the cellular industry.
Ben Charny
Construction giant Bechtel National said Monday that it tapped Lucent Technologies to help rebuild Iraq's shattered telephone infrastructure.

The Lucent deal, valued at $25 million, is the first subcontract Bechtel has awarded to rehabilitate the communications systems in Iraq, where 240,000 of the 540,000 telephone lines are still out of service, Bechtel said in a statement.

Lucent begins work next month to repair the network of Iraqi Telephone and Post Company (ITPC), which is the dominant telephone provider in Iraq. Work is expected to take about six months, according to Lucent spokeswoman Mary Ward. Part of the contract is to help train ITPC employees to use the newly installed gear.

"Lucent is honored to be part of the rebuilding of Iraq," said Phillip Rosenthall, president of Lucent Technologies Middle East and Africa.

Bechtel plans to spend a total of $45 million to rebuild Iraq's communications system. There are more telephone subcontracts under way, but a Bechtel representative would not comment on when they will be announced.

The U.S. Agency for International Development awarded Bechtel a $680 million contract to rebuild Iraq's total infrastructure over the next 18 months. Bechtel said it will subcontract about 90 percent of the work.