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EghtesadOnline: Two major mobile operators have reportedly slashed Internet tariffs for some local websites that offer “indigenous content,” according to press releases from both companies.

Following a mandate issued by the Communication Regulatory Authority of Iran (CRA), MTN-Irancell and Mobile Communication Company of Iran, MCI (Hamrah-e-Avval) cut Internet tariffs for 210 local websites, local technology website ICTNA reported.

The third largest mobile operator, RighTel has so far not said whether it too intends to do likewise.

According to the CRA directive, Internet service providers (ISPs) are required to offer a 50% discount to subscribers using the new domestic National Information Network (NIN), Financial Tribune reported.

It is not known whether regular landline ISPs will enact the same rules on their data packages.   

 Full List of Websites

The list of local websites using NIN is longer than 210 with more than 50,000 websites selling items online.

It is not clear if the operators will extend the list to include all websites operating through NIN.

According to CRA, the price-cuts aim to prop up indigenous content production and Iranian online businesses.

MTN-Irancell has released the list of websites and services included in the scheme. It mainly includes official news agencies affiliated to the state and government and websites of state-owned and semi-state owned banks.

Several businesses from online shops to websites offering IPTV services are on the list. The online TV services include Aparat, Filimo, Filmnet, Iseema and Kanape.

Internet Protocol television (IPTV) is the delivery of television content using signals based on the logical Internet protocol (IP), rather than through traditional terrestrial, satellite signal, and cable television formats.

Moreover, the list encompasses almost all major shopping websites, namely Digikala, Divar, Bama, Sheypoor, Digiato, Emalls and Zanbil. The second biggest online store bamilo.com is absent from the list.

An Iranian job search website, E-estekhdam is also on the list along with Cafe Bazaar, Iran’s most popular local Android app store and an Internet-based startup delivering food from restaurants, Zoodfood. Oddly, Zoodfood’s biggest competitor, chilivery.com, backed by Iranian Modern Business Company (IMBCO), was not included.

Some indigenous social media websites and domains offering blogging services are included.

The official website of one of the pioneers of Iranian startups, Anetwork—which was said to be worth $3 million in 2015— is on the list.

Interestingly, the official website of Iran’s oldest and largest automaker, Iran Khodro, has been included in the list. It is not known how and why IKCO’s official website should be considered a “business producing online content.”

In September 2016 the council ruled that 50% of the funds allocated for the establishment and expansion of NIN must go to indigenous content production.

The first phase of Iran’s long-awaited national project, established by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology was officially launched last August.

The second phase of the project was launched in February and the final phase will be unveiled later this year after the May 19 presidential elections.

After Hassan Rouhani was elected president in 2013, increasing content production, upgrading and indigenizing technological know-how in advanced technologies has been on the agenda of the Telecoms Ministry.

 Contrary Reports

The list comes on the heels of earlier reports that Internet tariffs have actually increased since 2013 refuting official reports to the contrary.

In an investigative report conducted by the Young Journalists Club, the director of the Telecommunications Infrastructure Company of Iran, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, had claimed Internet tariffs had declined drastically in recent years.

Last month Jahromi announced the lower price per megabyte (14,000 rials ($0.37) during a ceremony marking the 140th anniversary of the establishment of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (formerly the Postal Ministry).

“The base cost of transferring a gigabyte of data has fallen drastically and reached 14,000 rials ($0.37) from 36,000 rials ($0.97) in 2013,” he was quoted as saying. This is while the state-owned Telecommunication Company of Iran’s cheapest Internet service for transferring 12 GB of data is 44,000 rials, which is 21 cents higher than when Rouhani took office.

The “price cutting” scheme for boosting local content production and application of NIN is yet to be tested to find whether it will really decrease the end price for the fast increasing number of customers.

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