EghtesadOnline: Iran’s Communications Regulatory Authority has released a report on telecom infrastructure development in the first quarter of the current fiscal year (March 21-June 21).
CRA’s report covers both communication services (landline telephony and mobile network) and internet services (landline and mobile broadband data connection).
According to the report, the country’s mobile network penetration rate has reached 156.9% with 131.05 million active SIM cards registered by June 21, which was 142% a year earlier.
Iran’s mobile communication services are provided by three operators, Mobile Telecommunications Company of Iran (MCI, aka Hamrah-e Avval in Persian), Irancell and RighTel.
The CRA report shows MCI has sold over 99.5 million SIM cards, including 78.7 million prepaid SIM cards, of which 70.3 million are active subscribers.
Irancell, the second major operator in Iran, has 56.2 million active subscribers and sold 92.9 million SIM cards. The data show 87.1 million subscribers have prepaid and 5.7 million have postpaid SIM cards.
The third and the less popular operator, RighTel, has sold around 8.8 million SIM cards, of which only 4.5 million are active. Again, the number of RighTel’s prepaid SIM cards is considerably higher than postpaid ones, reaching 8.6 million.
The three operator companies respectively have a 53.26%, 43.01% and 3.72% share of the market.
The three mobile operators have established over 31,000 communication sites across the country by June.
The data also indicate that mobile network coverage on major and minor roads, as well as railroads, across the country has reached 94.4%.
Mobile connectivity covering 82,000 kilometers of road have been developed by MCI. About 64,000 kilometers of road have been covered by Irancell.
According to CRA, the penetration rate of landline telephone services reached 34.81% with 29.24 million active subscribers.
The rate has slightly improved compared with the previous year, which was 34.68%.
The report shows that the number of villages with landline telephony infrastructures has reached 47,274, which is 82.57% of the total rural areas in Iran.
The infrastructures have been developed mainly by state-owned operator Telecommunications Company of Iran and HiWEB.
Iran has 92,620 public telephones, most of which are not functioning for lack of services, or the widespread use of cellphones.
The report shows landline internet is expanding at a snail’s pace, mainly due to public discontent over the high rates and poor services.
According to the CRA charts, the penetration rate of landline internet was only 12.38% by June 21.
A total of 10.39 million subscribers are using different landline internet services, including xDSL with 8.57 million subscribers, FTTX with 159,700, WiFi with 382,300 and TD-LTE with 1.48 million subscribers.
Over 8.5 million of the total users around the country are household users and the rest are business outlets.
The report illustrates that the landline internet speed for around 2 million subscribers does not exceed 20 Mb/s and 4 million have access to 2-10 Mb/s speed.
Mobile internet, on the contrary, is expanding rapidly in the country, with a penetration rate of over 98.01%. The total number of 3G and 4G mobile internet subscribers has reached 82.33 million.
Iran’s ICT Ministry plans to provide access to speedy connections to all villages with over 20 households.
These efforts are in line with the Universal Service Obligation Plan, proposed by the ICT Ministry, for providing broadband internet access to rural areas.
Officials believe that increasing the access of users, corporations and organizations to the internet can increase economic productivity and promote social welfare. Internet access increases traditional business activities and interactions via new strategies.
Rural craftsmen and farmers in Iran are now able to conduct their businesses through online platforms, directly interact with customers and exclude middlemen.
The promotion of ICT in rural areas also helps build novel industries and businesses.
The development of internet connection has also helped curb educational disparity and offers free education to all students through online platforms.
By utilizing the integrated ICT infrastructures, officials have connected all urban and rural schools with high-speed internet, giving school students of all grades access to online education.
This prepares the ground for promoting virtual education. The implementation of the plan was slated to finish by March 2020, but impediments in supplying equipment delayed the work, former ICT minister, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, said earlier.
“The ICT Ministry is also designing a project to provide high-speed internet access to all universities,” he added.
Jahromi noted that around 1,000 universities will be connected to the internet via optic fibers.