By: Mir M.Hosseini
12 years after invention of telegraph, in 1857, Iran was admitted to the International Telegraph Union. In March 1858, the first test message was transmitted that contained a short piece of literature thanking God. Right after that, cabling started between the Ark Palace until the Lalezar Garden and became operational the following year.
In July, 1859, the first long telegraph line between Tehran and Chaman Soltanieh was installed. The initially 300 km line then reached Zanjan, Tabriz and Jolfa after two years. Then the Tehran-Guilan line became operational and joined the Russian Telegraph network in 1863. The Russian Tsar and Persian Shah exchanged congratulations messages.
The International Telegraph Union was later renamed as the International Union of Long Distance Communications. In 1874, The Telegraph office was upgraded to ministry level and Mirza Taghi Khan Mokhberoddoleh was the first minister in charge of telecommunications. Iran's first telephone line connected the Shah Abdolazim to Rhagae train station, 7.8 km apart in 1890. This primitive train, constructed by a Belgian entrepreneur used to be called Mashin Doodi. Eventually, the next destinations were Shah's palace in Kamraniyeh before connecting the Ministry of War.
The old ministry was again upgraded to Post and Telegraph Ministry which took charge of telephone services. The Ekbatan center served 6000 telephone numbers in 1937 and reached 13000 users in 20 years. The PTT evolved in time until formation of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and its subdivisions. In 1993, the first GSM service started operating. Because of state monopoly, like other sectors, adoption and distribution of new services has been slow. In Nov, 2005, South African MTN signed an agreement to become the first private GSM operator in Iran.