Sunday, January 04, 2004

Iraq’s Untapped Resource - Fiber Optic Network

Very good news for the Iraqi people. An extensive fiber optic network has been discovered in Iraq. The network was built by the former regime without Iraqi knowledge. This will really speed up building fast Internet network in Iraq.

The good news was reported by Borzou Daragahi. He reported from Baghdad, Iraq for the Marketplace program on National Public Radio.

Here's the link to the audio story, but you have to listen to the beginning of the program before you can get to the report.

For the people who don't have high-speed internet connection, here's the report's transcript:

Marketplace: Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Iraq’s untapped resource
By Borzou Daragahi

Iraqis rummaging through the wreckage of Saddam’s 30-year reign have found mass graves and torture chambers hidden from public, but they also got a pleasant subterranean surprise. Fareed Yassin is the technology adviser to the Iraqi Governing Council member Adnan Bachachi.

“There seems to be an extensive fiber optic network in the country that was built by the former regime that we didn’t know about,” he said.

The 2,400-mile-long nationwide fiber optic network wasn’t on any maps or city plans. Apparently Saddam wanted to keep it secret.

“They had to go from manhole to manhole to measure the topology of the network,” he said.

Experts say the fiber optic network will help Iraq’s economy in many ways. Iraq’s isolated students and scholars will have faster and better internet access.

“And that’s a really important thing for these universities because they’ve been cut off from the world previously by the regime and then by the sanctions,” he said.

It’s also important for small business. Many shops like this one already plunked down $10 grand for a satellite dish. They installed phone booths, faxes and computers and charge their customers by the minute or hour.

Since the downfall of Saddam, hundreds of telecommunications centers, internet cafes and internet service providers have sprung up all over Iraq. They’re essential tools for communication and commerce. They’re also growing small businesses and the fiber optic network will help them. But helping Iraqi merchants probably wasn’t what Saddam had in mind when he ordered up the high-speed communication lines.

“You can’t eaves drop on fiber optics.”

This may be the only time Saddam’s infamous paranoia benefited Iraqis

Many thanks to my husband who found this report for me. That's one advantage of being married to a news person.

For more information about how fiber optics work click here.

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