EghtesadOnline: In line with the government's efforts to upgrade ICT infrastructure throughout Iran, several projects worth 691 billion rials ($5.1 million) were inaugurated in South Khorasan Province.
During a Monday visit to the province, Information and Communications Technologies Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi inaugurated a number of projects on streamlining communication infrastructures across the province, covering urban and rural areas, the ministry's website reported.
Expanding fiber-optic networks by 79 kilometers, improving the capacity of data transfer over copper and wireless broadband networks, establishing three new mobile network stations, installing routers and boosting broadband internet speed for home connections were among projects launched in the province, according to Financial Tribune.
Provincial projects included the establishment of communication towers and expansion of 4G internet coverage to new areas, including Garejgan Village, as well as extension of mobile coverage to surrounding villages.
"ICT development in the province has increased the number of people with access to broadband internet in South Khorasan Province from 250,000 in 150 villages to 800,000 in 619 villages in the past two years," he added.
According to Jahromi, following the launch of these projects in the province, a big share of rural areas with more than 25 households will soon be connected to the National Information Network.
NIN is an independent network whose content is compatible with Islamic values, one of the most important components of which is the availability of localized services.
"This is consistent with the government policies to connect 90% of villages with over 80 residents to NIN by 2021," he added.
Jahromi said the new projects will boost ICT services in the province, emphasizing that enhancing communications should be among the top priorities of authorities.
A total of 650 billion rials ($4.8million) have been allocated to upgrading ICT infrastructures in the northeastern province of Khorasan Razavi in the current Iranian year (started March 2019).
Jahromi said the budget will be spent on developing communication infrastructures and implementing related projects in the province's urban and rural areas.
Of this budget, 240 billion rials ($1.7 million) have been earmarked for investment in rural and suburban areas.
During an earlier visit by Jahromi to the province in August 2019, projects for overhauling the communication infrastructures in Torbat-e Heidariyeh, Gonabad, Bajestan, Kashmar, Neyshabur and other cities, collectively worth 45 billion rials ($333,000), were also launched.
Jahromi said the new projects will boost the development of ICT services in the province, emphasizing that communication services should be among the priorities of local authorities.
“When these projects become fully operational, communication network coverage in rural areas and along the intercity roads of the region will improve significantly,” he added.
In a meeting with provincial authorities, Jahromi said a pilot project on developing internet access in rural areas will be launched in the region in the near future.
In late August 2019, President Hassan Rouhani announced that over 1,000 undeveloped villages in Sistan-Baluchestan, Kerman, Fars and West Azarbaijan provinces have access to mobile communications and linked to the national network.
He said at the time that in terms of convenience, all efforts are being made to fill the gap between urban and rural living conditions.
Villages and metropolises should be developed in tandem, so extensive work has been done and will be on track to provide all villagers with clean potable water, energy, health and communication services.
Experts in the field say that by bridging the communication gap between cities and villages, migration to cities will decline.
“People living in 63% of rural areas have access to landline/mobile telephony and broadband internet,” Mehrdad Torabian, director of ICT Ministry’s office for Communication Services Development in Rural Areas, told reporters in September 2019.
“The telecom service penetration rate in rural areas has seen a twofold jump in the past few years. The figure was around 32% in September 2017, when President Hassan Rouhani was reelected for a second term.”
Torabian noted that in 2017, close to 9% of villages were totally deprived of any sort of communication services, which figure is now down to 3%.
Latest data released by the Communications Regulatory Authority show that currently, 83% of rural areas in Iran have access to landline communication services, which constitute 51,200 out of the total 61,700 villages in the country.
CRA also said more than 80% of Iranians have access to broadband internet services. The figure is equal to 66.1 million internet users in the country of 81 million people. Internet user is defined as a person of ages six and above, who has used the internet at least once in three months.
Over 10 million landline and 55 million mobile internet subscriptions are registered in Iran and people hold 88.7 million SIM cards.