back to using Internet cafes since the phone isn't working, so sorry if
I am behind in responding to emails.
As to the mobile phone network, specifically that of Baghdad, horrible doesn't even start to describe it. The service is totally unavailable during the day and only seems to work after midnight. All you get is 'network busy', 'unknown error', 'weak signal', 'service unavailable' and things like that. Most of the time if you are trying to call someone your voice just echoes back to you. Of course there is an array of other problems with the service but Orascom should at least ensure that subscribers can effectively call each other.
A mobile phone is extremely invaluable because it is the only way you can locate a family member if there is trouble somewhere in the capital. Nabil's school is very far from our neighborhood and if he runs late for some unpredictable reason we can be reassured about his safety by calling him, the same for others. A few days ago I was holed up till dark at my old college because of roadblocks following an attack on an American patrol. I couldn't call home because there was no signal the whole time I was there. When I returned home I found them crazy with fright.
The Kuwaiti MTC Atheer network in southern Iraq is much more reliable, even though I saw many people in Basrah complaining of the service as usual. MTC recently announced that they would soon be available in Baghdad, in fact MTC subscribers in the south can already use their service while in Baghdad whereas Orascom/Iraqna subscribers can't make use of the service outside the capital. I haven't heard anything in regard to the northern network but it looks like it's going smoothly.
Nokia phones are the most popular in Baghdad, especially the 6600 model. Iraqis have already nicknamed it dabdoob (fat) because of its peculiar size and shape. The classic, cheap 1100 model is called taabuga (brick) because of its durability. Some people claim they have ran over it in cars, dropped it from the roof, or attempted to smash it with a hammer and yet it still worked.
'Phonejacking' is not an uncommon practice these days. Similar to carjacking, a criminal would force you to give up your prized phone at gunpoint.
While I read this, I think about the new phone I just ordered. My father has a similar phone and had a bunch of trouble with his. He had to have it replaced three times. I didn't know this before I picked the phone out. Great. I should have checked with Iraqi blogs before picking out a phone. There is alot more to this whole blog. You should stop by and check it out.