BAGHDAD, Iraq, Feb. 26 /PRNewswire/ -- Bechtel today announced the restoration of 12 telephone exchange sites in Baghdad, allowing the Iraqi Telephone and Post Company (ITPC) to bring 240,000 telephone lines back into operation. In addition, a new international satellite gateway, capable of handling all international calls placed from anywhere in the country, has been installed and integrated with the ITPC telephone switches in Baghdad. The work was performed as part of Bechtel's contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to repair key elements of Iraq's infrastructure. Before the conflict, 1.1 million Iraqis, half of those in Baghdad, subscribed to ITPC for landline telephone service. Twelve of the capital's switching centers were destroyed during the conflict, disrupting service to 240,000 out of 520,000 telephone subscribers. The ITPC and Bechtel subcontractor Lucent Technologies installed 13 new switches; the ITPC and Bechtel subcontractor Globecomm installed the international gateway; and Bechtel managed the work. The switches and international gateway are connected to and being monitored and controlled from the new Network Operations Center at Al Mamoun, the largest telephone exchange site in the country. "This effort succeeded because of the strong partnership between Bechtel and its subcontractors and the ITPC," said Steve Beuby, Bechtel's project manager for telecommunications. "The work of the ITPC was truly remarkable." ITPC telephone exchange work included considerable site preparation; digging new cable ducts; splicing 1,800-pair and smaller cables; placing concrete slabs for equipment containers; and building security walls, fencing, and lighting installations. ITPC crews worked 24 hours a day for two- and three- day periods commissioning and integrating switches, and performed all cable splicing and wiring of main distribution frames. Tip cable splicing and connecting subscriber wiring to the switches continues. Bechtel also is restoring portions of the main 2,000-kilometer, north- south fiber optic backbone connecting Dahuk in the far north to Umm Qasr in the extreme south. Connectivity between all cities north and south of Baghdad will deliver voice and data communications needed to meet the country's immediate requirements and to foster future economic development. In support of the Coalition Provisional Authority's reconstruction effort in Iraq, Bechtel is under contract with USAID for the repair, rehabilitation, or reconstruction of vital elements of Iraq's infrastructure. This effort runs through 2005 and includes the repair and renovation of port facilities, power stations, telecommunications, water systems, rail, bridges, buildings, and airports. For more information on CPA, USAID, and Bechtel's reconstruction efforts in Iraq, please visit www.cpa-iraq.org, www.usaid.gov/iraq/, and www.bechtel.com/iraq.htm, respectively. Bechtel is one of the world's premier engineering-construction organizations. It provides technical, management, and directly related services to develop, finance, build, and operate installations for customers in a wide range of industries. To date, Bechtel has worked on more than 20,000 projects in 140 countries on all seven continents. For more information about Bechtel and its projects worldwide, visit www.bechtel.com.