Iran’s telecommunications industry is almost entirely state-owned, dominated by the Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI). Fixed-line penetration in 2004 was relatively well-developed by regional standards, standing at 22 lines per 100 people, higher than Egypt with 14 and Saudi Arabia with 15, although behind the UAE with 27. Iran had more than 1 mobile phone per inhabitant by 2012.
Iran has a population of 70 million with some 56% of Iranians under the age of 25. In 2008, there were more than 52,000 rural offices, providing Telecom services to the villages across the country. The number of fixed telephone lines is above 24 million, with penetration factor of 33.66%. In 2012, there were 43 million internet users in Iran, making the country first in the Middle East in terms of number.
Iran is among the first five countries which have had a growth rate of over 20 percent and the highest level of development in telecommunication. Iran has been awarded the UNESCO special certificate for providing telecommunication services to rural areas. By the end of 2009, Iran''s telecom market was the fourth-largest market in the region at $9.2 billion and is expected to grow to $12.9 billion by 2014 at a CAGR of 6.9 percent.
According to the Electronic Journal on Information Systems in Developing Countries (EJISDC), the information and communications technology (ICT) sector had a 1.1-1.3% share of GDP in 2002. About 150,000 people are employed in the ICT sector, including around 20,000 in the software industry. There were 1,200 registered information technology (IT) companies in 2002, 200 of which were involved in software development. Software exports stood around $50 million in 2008.Contents
The government runs the broadcast media, which includes three national radio stations and two national television networks, as well as dozens of local radio and television stations. In 2000 there were 252 radios, 158 television sets, 219 telephone lines, and 110 personal computers for every 1,000 residents. Computers for home use became more affordable in the mid-1990s, and since then demand for access to the Internet has increased rapidly. In 1998, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (renamed the Ministry of Information & Communication Technology) began selling Internet accounts to the general public. In 2006, the Iranian telecom industry''s revenues were estimated at $1.2 billion. By the end of 2009, Iran''s telecom market was the fourth-largest market in the region at $9.2 billion and is expected to grow to $12.9 billion by 2014 at a CAGR of 6.9 percent.
The Fourth Five Year Economic Development Plan has proposed the following key benchmarks for 2010: 36 million fixed lines; 50% penetration rate for mobile phones; establishment of reliable rural ICT connections and 30 million internet users. Given the recent developments of the industry, the objectives are very likely to be achieved.
According to one report, Iran has seen above average growth, specially in mobile subscriber numbers. Mobile data services are available but account for a small proportion of total data consumption in 2014. Some telecom parameters of 2012 & 2014 are as below:
More than 23 million Iranians have access to the Internet and over 45 million own mobile phones (2009/10). Tech-savvy citizens use text messages to communicate with friends and browse the Internet — which the government controls in terms of access and speed — for a multiplicity of purposes. Blogging is also immensely popular. Iran is among 5 countries with cyber warfare capabilities according to the Defense Tech institute (US military and security institute).
|Telephone main lines (''000)||12,888||15,341||16,342||18,985||19,934||20,300|
|Telephone main lines (per 100 population)||19.1||22.6||23.8||27.3||28.4||28.6|
|Mobile subscribers (''000)||2,410||3,449||4,271||7,222||7,583||17,799|
|Mobile subscribers (per 100 population)||3.6||5.1||6.2||10.4||10.8||25.1|
|Internet users (''000)||3,168||4,800||5,500||7,000||7,350||7,718|
|Internet users (per 100 population)||4.7||7.1||8.0||10.1||10.5||10.9|
|Personal computers (stock per 1,000 population)||75||91||105||105||110||116|
|Telephone, charge per local call from home, 3 mins (av)||0.01|
|Personal computer, 512 MB RAM (av)||1,326|
The press in Iran is privately owned and reflects a diversity of political and social views. A special court has authority to monitor the print media and may suspend publication or revoke the licenses of papers or journals that a jury finds guilty of publishing antireligious material, slander, or information detrimental to the national interest. Since the late 1990s the court has shut down many pro-reform newspapers and other periodicals. Most Iranian newspapers are published in Persian, but newspapers in English and other languages also exist. The most widely circulated periodicals are based in Tehrān. Popular daily and weekly newspapers include Ettelaat, Kayhan, Resalat, Iran Daily and the Tehran Times (both are English-language papers).Satellite See also: Iranian Space Agency
Since the 1970s, there have been a number of proposals for a state-owned communications satellite, called Zohreh (en:Venus) from 1993 onwards. The planned satellite would have similar capabilities to a commercially-produced Western satellite, while such capabilities are already provided through leases owned by the Iranian telecommunications sector. An agreement was signed between Iran and Russia in 2005 to develop the satellite with a planned launch date of 2007, but the launch has been postponed until at least 2009, set to follow actual construction of the satellite.Telephone
The telephone system is inadequate but being modernized and expanded with the goal of not only improving the efficiency and increasing the volume of the urban service but also bringing telephone service to several thousand villages that are not connected now.Domestic
As a result of heavy investing in the telephone system since 1994, thousands of mobile cellular subscribers are being served; moreover, the technical level of the system has been raised by the installation of thousands of digital switches.
Iran’s telecommunication network enjoys the highest growth rate in the Middle East. One of the indicators that clearly illustrates this growth rate is the increase in the number of installed main lines. In 1978 there were only about 850,000 fixed lines installed in Iran. This number rose to about 1,767,000 by 1986 and to about 2,380,000 by 1989. One of the objectives of the first five-year development plan (1989–1994) for the telecommunication sector was to add one million new fixed lines to the network. However, due to the establishment and expansion of many low-capacity and high-capacity exchanges, the actual growth rate that was achieved was considerably higher. In fact more than 3.1 million new main lines were installed during the period of the first five-year plan. Four million new lines were expected to be added by the end of the second five-year plan (1994–1999), which would increase the number of installed main lines to about 9,510,000 fixed lines. Iran''s telecom market, which generated an estimated $9.1 billion in 2010 (of which 2/3 from "voice" mobile-phone and 1/10 from "data" mobile-phone services), has been growing significantly, especially its mobile-phone business. As of 2010, Iran had about 66 million mobile-phone subscribers covering about 70% of the population. In contrast, about 36% of Iranians had fixed-line phones.Landlines
As of 2010, international connection services are provided exclusively by Infrastructure Company of Iran, a fully owned subsidiary of TCI. Submarine fiber-optic cable to UAE with access to Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG); Trans Asia Europe (TAE) fiber-optic line runs from Azerbaijan through the northern portion of Iran to Turkmenistan with expansion to Georgia and Azerbaijan; HF radio and microwave radio relay to Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Syria, Kuwait, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; satellite earth stations - 13 (9 Intelsat and 4 Inmarsat) (2007) Apart from Iran-Kuwait submarine communications cable network, Iran is launching an optical fiber channel and a submarine communications cable in the Persian Gulf. The next program is to connect the country with global optical fiber networks from northern and northwestern borders.Radio See also: Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting
In 1993 Iran became the second country in the Middle East to be connected to the Internet, and since then the government has made significant efforts to improve the nation''s ICT infrastructure. Iran''s national Internet connectivity infrastructure is based on two major networks: the public switched telephone network (PSTN) and the public data network. The PSTN provides a connection for end-users to Internet service providers (ISPs) over mostly digital lines and supports modem-based connections. The Data Communication Company of Iran (DCI), a subsidiary of TCI, operates the public data network. Iran''s external Internet links use the basic Internet protocol of TCP/IP (transmission control protocol/Internet protocol) via satellite exclusively. For data lines, copper, fibre, satellite and microwave are the available media, and popular services are high-speed Internet via digital subscriber lines (DSL), high-bandwidth lease lines and satellite. About 33 Iranian cities are connected directly by the Trans-Asia-Europe cable network, or "silk road", connecting China to Europe."National internet" See also: Science and IT in Iran and Internet
Since 2005, Iran has been developing a "national Internet" to improve control over its content as well as speed. The project, which is separate from the world wide web, will be completed by 2013. This network will be separated from the rest of the internet, specifically for domestic use. Creating such a network, similar to one used by North Korea, would prevent unwanted information from outside of Iran getting into the closed system. Myanmar and Cuba also use similar systems. Iran has announced that all government ministries and state bodies will go offline from September 2012.
The current internet services will not be replaced by the National Information Network or ''"National Internet" or "Clean Internet" as it is called. In order to protect the privacy of Iranian internet users, a number of non-governmental organizations are currently developing domestic search engines that people can use through the National Information Network.
Iranian officials have accused U.S.-based technology companies such as Google, Twitter and Microsoft of working in tandem with U.S. authorities to spy on Iranian online trends, search behavior, social networking sites and e-mail. These companies have denied those allegations. As of 2013, 90% of all of Internet traffic is being routed to hosts outside the country.Infrastructure
Iran has developed (or is in the process of developing) IT/technology parks, infrastructures for local emails, instant messaging (IM), domestic search engines, auction website, e-commerce, e-government, distance education, social medias, a domestic version of the Linux Operating System called "Sharif Linux", bespoke or open source software for web browsing, word processing, spreadsheet and database; accounting and various business/financial and industrial software, security software and video games.
Iran is also manufacturing key computer, internet and IT components, including a local data center, microprocessors, supercomputers, routers, computer monitors, printers, mobile phones, fiber optics and lasers.ISPs
The leading Data Communication Company of Iran (DCI) which belongs to Telecommunication Company of Iran (now privatized) and the Iranian Research Organization for Science and Technology (IROST) are two bodies that act as ISPs. As of 2008, the largest privately owned ISP was Parsnet, which serves only Tehran. The leading ISP with a provincial focus is Isfahan-based Irangate.net. The Neda Rayaneh Institute (NRI) was the first private ISP in Iran.
Domain names with the ".ir" suffix are assigned by the Institute for Studies in Theoretical Physics and Mathematics (IPM). DCI maintains the network infrastructure, providing Internet access via the IRANPAK X.25 packet-switching network, which covers most major cities. DCI is the only ISP with a permit for supplying government agencies. DCI supplies both dial-up and leased lines to its users.
By the regulations of Iran, these ISPs should rely on the Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI) for their bandwidth. Previously serviced by TCI’s Public Switch Telephone Network, the ISPs have been provided with modern data line capacity through a national IP-based network. With the completion of this new network, Internet services in Iran is expected to improve dramatically.Speed and costs
Iranian internet has an average speed of 2 Mbit/s, about one-tenth of the global average (2014). Hong Kong, the world leader, boasts an average of 72 Mbit/s; the United States ranks 31st, at about 21 Mbit/s. A 2 Mbit/s subscription costs $5 a month, daily traffic is charged at 60¢/GB but traffic is free at night at up to 5GB per night. Upload speeds are typically 40% of the download speed.Broadband Internet accessNumber of Internet users in Iran per 100 people, from 2000 to 2011. Data: World BankSee also: Internet and ICT in Iran
As of 2012, 11 private access providers (PAPs) and TCI compete for market share, offering ADSL2+, WiMAX, and other fixed wireless broadband services. Iran’s IP-based ''national data network'' is being developed by Information Technology Company (ITC), which is also a TCI subsidiary. This network covers 210 Iranian cities and has 60,000 high-speed ports to meet the needs of its end users such as business and ISPs (2009). Some actions are being taken to build and optimize infrastructure for provision of broadband services in the next five years and the Regulatory has decided to grant the license of offering WiMAX services to some private companies based on auction and then the license for the 3rd mobile operator.
companies that are under the PAP license:
As of 2008, more than 100 companies sell International VoIP cards and the government has announced to issue 4-5 VoIP licenses through holding bids for national use.Usage See also: Distance education in Iran, Blogging in Iran and Internet censorship in Iran
Full Internet service is available in all major cities and it is very rapidly increasing. Many small towns and even some villages now have full Internet access. The government aims to provide 10% of government and commercial services via the Internet by end-2008 and to equip every school with computers and Internet connections by the same date. The Internet has become an expanding means to accessing information and self-expression among the younger population. Iran is also the world''s fourth largest country of bloggers with approx. 60,000 Persian blogs although Internet censorship in Iran is amongst the most restrictive and sophisticated in the world. As of 2014, 67.4 percent of Iranian young people (between the ages of 15-29) use the internet. 69.3% of Iranian young people reported using anti-internet filter software to be able to surf through blocked websites.Electronic commerce See also: Shetab Banking System, Retail industry in Iran, E-commerce and intellectual property in Iran and E-trading in the Tehran Stock Exchange
Iran is presently implementing a bar code system across the country in order to facilitate e-commerce and tax collection. The executive state organizations, which are the largest buyers of goods in the country, cannot buy and use goods that do not have the "Irancode".
Iran''s electronic commerce will reach 10,000 billion rials ($1 billion) by March 2009. Online-sales reached $300,000 per day in 2014 with more than 20,000 active online stores with electronics being the most popular sale product. In 2007, Tetra-Tech IT Company announced that using VISA and MasterCard is now possible for online sales and in Iranian e-card terminals at shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, and travel agencies for Iranians and foreign tourists. Saman Bank was the first bank to introduce online banking services in Iran. Since, it has been at the forefront of expansion and enhancement of electronic banking. In 2010, a state-linked technology group (the Rouyesh Technical Centre) established the country''s first online supermarket. In February 2011, the first Iranian Online Shopping Festival presented by the Iranian Ministry of Commerce honored the best brands of the e-commerce industry. The best websites awarded were Adinebook.com, Aftabbazaar.com, مركز خرید اینترنتی البسكو.كام Albasco.com, and AtlasEmarket.com .
In 2004 the Majlis adopted the Electronic Commerce Law:
The Fifth Five-Year Development Plan (2010-15) has set the target of conducting electronically:
According to the Electronic Journal on Information Systems in Developing Countries (EJISDC), the information and communications technology (ICT) sector had a 1.1-1.3% share of GDP in 2002. About 150,000 people are employed in the ICT sector, including around 20,000 in the software industry. There were 1,200 registered information technology (IT) companies in 2002, 200 of which were involved in software development. Software exports stood around $50 million in 2008 and $400 million in 2014.
Iran imports a large part of its software. According to the EJISDC, around 95% of the output of the domestic industry is bespoke development (including translation/adaptation from foreign source) —as opposed to product work—meaning export possibilities are low. Domestic firms involved in software production include Sena Soft, Dadeh-Pardazi, Iran Argham, Kafa System Information Network, Iran System and Puya. IDRO''s subsidiaries "Magfa" (Information Technology Development Center) and Iran Info-Tech Development Co. are also leading players in this sector. The largest private computer software producer in Iran is Hamkaran Systems with 7000 customers.
Iran''s National Foundation for Computer Games unveiled the country''s first online video game in 2010, capable of supporting up to 5,000 users at the same time.
Although there are no established clusters in Tehran, a major facility, the Tehran Software and Information Technology Park, is planned. International Development Ireland was selected as the consultant for the project in mid-2004. There are also plans for a technology park in the free-trade zone on Kish Island in the Persian Gulf, which already contains the necessary technological infrastructure.
The government''s drive to automate manual processes is expected to account for about 70% of demand for software development, but there are also some 15,000 private-sector factories that have software needs. Foreign investment in the sector is minimal, although some links are being developed with the Indian software industry. Poor intellectual property protection in Iran has also hindered the development of Iranian software companies causing a lack of foreign direct investment in this sector.Consumer electronics See also: List of Iranian companies, Maadiran Group and Smuggling in Iran
The Middle East consumer electronics and technology sector amounts to a $37 billion high (2008), according to a study by the Dubai-based subsidiary of GfK-MEMRB Marketing Services. The study also predicts that the market will continue riding the wave of growth to hit $39–$40 billion in 2009. Mobile and smartphones make up 41 percent of the entire digital consumer market with sales of $10 billion expected in 2008. It’s followed by desktop and notebook computers at $5 billion and LCD televisions at $4 billion. The study also reveals the market structure by channel where, in Iran and the UAE, independent retailers still lead with 60-percent share in volume for product categories such as digital cameras, LCD televisions and mobile phones. However, large retailers like Plug-Ins, Emax and Sharaf DG are also making their presence felt by capturing the remaining 40 percent. The digital consumer technology sector is expected to see retail sales in excess of $24 billion by the end of 2008.
Iran’s domestic consumer electronic market, defined as including computing devices, mobile handsets and video audio and gaming products, was estimated at $7.3 billion in 2008 ($8.2 billion in 2010), with 47% market share for computer hardware, 28% Audio/Video and 25% mobile phone (with growing demand for PDAs, smartphones and 3G handsets). Business Monitor International (BMI) forecasts that Iran’s demands for domestic consumer electronic devices will reach $10 billion by 2013.Computers See also: Industrial Development and Renovation Organization of Iran, Parsé Semiconductor Co., Telecommunication & Computer Industries Consortium and Data Processing Iran Co.
Iran is manufacturing some computer components under license from international companies, predominantly in the area of monitors. Eight Iranian companies are manufacturing monitors under licence of LG, Samsung, Hyundai, Benq, Tatung and CTX. Motherboard, keyboard, mouse, computer case, power supply, CPU, hard drive and printers are other components that are now manufactured locally. Personal computer (PC) ownership in Iran stood at 7.3m in 2005, or 10.5 PCs per 100 people.
Among the leading domestic telecoms equipment manufacturers is the Iran Telephone Manufacturing Company (ITMC), which has licensing agreements with Siemens and Alcatel-Lucent of France. ITMC is owned by TCI (45%), Industry Bank (35%) and Siemens (20%). Other manufacturers include Iran Communications Industries Incorporated and Parstel—which produces under licence from Daewoo Corporation, a South Korean firm. IDRO''s Iran Info-Tech Development Co. is producing computers under the brand name "SAHAND". Overall, ICT hardware sales were estimated to total US$700m a year in 2008.Ministry of Information and Communication Technology See also: Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (Iran)
The main functions of the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology are laying out and implementing policies pertaining to post and communications in Iran. The Ministry is also in charge of issuing import licenses for certain communication equipment and parts thereof. This ministry was originally named "Ministry of Post, Telegraph & Telephone".Privatization Main article: Privatization in Iran
Based on Note C of the general policies of the constitution''s Article 44, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology announced that it will float the shares of affiliated companies such as Mobile Telecommunications Company in the stock market.
Under the general policies of Article 44, telecom companies are categorized in four groups as follows:
TCI''s Infrastructure Telecom Company will be detached from it and it would continue its activities as a part of the ICT Ministry. 33 companies in the telecom sector are to be privatized by September 2007. This happened simultaneously with the launch of MTN Irancell, a private second carrier with foreign ownership. The privatization and introduction of a second operator has created a significantly more competitive environment which has led to significant cost reductions for mobile owners and service benefits.2009-IPO
In 2009, 51% of the shares of TCI was sold to Mobin Trust Consortium, a consortium which some media claimed it was affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, for the sum of $7.8 billion.Other ICP/ISP IPOs
In late 2011, Iranian ICP/ISP Afranet (Symbol in Tehran Stock Exchange: AFRZ1) went public. At present, there is no other ICP/ISP companies in Tehran Stock Exchange.Further reading