It seems that the long discussed issue with Iran’s so-called “Fourth Operator” is coming to a conclusion in finding a foreign investor.
Iranian Net the company that got the monopoly to establish Iran’s national fiber optic network which would’ve also enabled high-speed cable internet throughout the country had officially risen the white flag. The monopoly contract had been only for four years with key milestones fully described in the contract. In the second year of operation, Iranian Net was responsible for delivering 1 million ports, 3 million on the third year and a total of 6.870 million Fiber optic ports should’ve been established at the end of the eighth year. But none of these milestones have been met.
The reason behind this poor quality progress has been the lack of capital to continue this heavy investment thirsty project. According to reports, approximately $5 Billion is needed for this project. And because the lengthy time of the return of investment on this project, stakeholders were losing their interest over time.
At the time where there were whispers of extending the monopoly contract of Iranian net in the Ministry of Communication and Technology and selling the equity of the company to a foreign investor. Telecom giant MTN was one of the big shiny options. The talks of MTN interested in the project has been a word of mouth for Iranian tech media. However, things are being written on paper. At first, The Communications Infrastructure Company which is also the Iranian government’s representator in the project is willing to sell its share at the highest stake to MTN. But things changed along the way and MTN had problems with the current business plan Iranian Net had written.
According to Tasnim news, head of investment relations of MTN announced that MTN has a total of $1 billion revenue from Irancell and the loan that MTN gave Irancell. According to official sources, MTN plans to acquire 49% of the project as it also posses the same amount of share in Iran’s second largest mobile operator Irancell.
In the current post-sanctioned Iran, MTN can now transfer revenue money out of the country. The Iranian government also approves of this investment as it prevents MTN to pull out its capital country.
We have to wait for an additional month for the contracts to be finalized and to get official statements from both sides.