From cell phones to smartphones, this technology changed the way we have lived our lives in the past decades. 22 years ago the modern mobile phone technology was introduced to Iranians and changed the way they communicated with each other forever.
22 years ago, on August 10, 1994, for the first time, 4 SIM cards were given to 4 employees of Iran’s Presidential Administration as the launch of Iran’s first Mobile Network Operator. It was the first time that Iranians were holding cellular phones in their hands. Since then many things have changed as the revolution of mobile phones started to begin. Mobile phones changed the way we interact with other people, created a massive market and brought the world on the tip of our fingers. That’s how deep a technology can touch our everyday lives and Iran is no different. Since then, 140M SIM cards have been sold in the country from which 70M of them are active.
MCI (Hamrahe Aval) started its work with 24 BTS towers in Tehran with 9,200 customer capacity. At first, MCI was one of TCI’s (Telecommunication Company of Iran) projects and since there were many requests for the service all over the country, MCI received its own identity roughly in 2007 as a different company with 200 billion Tomans (57 billion dollars) with the aim of developing Iran’s first Mobile Network Operator. The company went public in 2013 and since then their stocks are available to the public. Today MCI services are available in 1,242 cities and 61,722 villages in Iran. In August 2014, MCI received its 3G and 4G license along with Irancell after three years of Rightel’s exclusivity on providing 3G services in the country.
Hamrahe-Aval has sold 80M SIM cards today which is a big number for a Mobile Network Operator all around the world. Only in the first quarter of the current Persian year, they acquired 2.5M new subscribers. Hamrahe Aval has the best reception in the urban and rural areas among the Mobile Network Operators in Iran while their data services have many shortcomings. On an average, 289K subscribers of Irancell and 669K subscribers of Rightel connect to Hamrahe Aval’s Network for roaming services per day. MCI penetration in the country is 78.5% and for international roaming services they are connected to 270 operators in 112 countries all around the world. In terms of revenue, MCI is doing well too. In the first quarter of the current Persian year, Hamrah Aval had 2,663 billion Tomans (761M dollars) revenue with 746 billion Tomans (213M dollars) net profit. With this performance, it’s no surprise that giant operators want to acquire some of this company’s shares.
At the end, Mobile Network Operators’ competition is getting more though each day in Iran with Hamrahe-Aval catching up to Irancell in terms of innovation and data services. Maybe in the past couple of years the number of users and country wide coverage were the most important features of Mobile Network Operators but now mobile data is the most important service of all. With MTN aiming for Iran’s national fiber optic project, Irancell would gain a massive power over MCI and the competition would get so much more interesting.