According to the latest report, internet penetration in Iran has reached to 82% while last year’s report shows 73%. The 9% increase is indicative of the government’s efforts to increase the internet penetration.

Iran’s Internet Penetration Management System has recently released new statistics for the first quarter of current fiscal year in Iran. According to this report which is based on total connections in the country, internet Penetration is 82.12%. With a population of 75,149,000, Iran now has 61,709,929 internet users and 43,026,279 internet subscribers . It’s interesting to know last year internet penetration was 73%.

Method of Calculating Internet Penetration

It’s also important to know the methods that Iran’s Internet Penetration Management System is using for calculating these statistics. Their method has two important elements for calculating the number of users. One is the number of the subscribers for specific connection methods, for example ADSL, Dial Up, etc. The other key factor is average users per specific methods of connection. By multiplying these two factors from these specific method of connections you can calculate the number of users.

A Very Brief History of Internet Access
Dial Up

Internet access in Iran has always had its problems. Apart from censorship, internet speed has always been a headache, not to mention the outages from time to time. During the first decade of twentieth century, more people started using Dial Up Technology. Back then, landlines had so much noise that users couldn’t get the promised 56Kbps connection speed. Few years after, with the rise of ADSL, the access and speed have improved drastically. Imagine the time when users could only get 40Kbps on average from Dial Up connection which was unstable most of the time and suddenly with ADSL, users could have a 128 Kbps stable internet connection.


But with the wave of ADSL, new issues appeared. Every household could only subscribe to 64 or 128Kbps ADSL connection. Ten years ago, if you wanted to have access to faster connections you had to be a student in a university, owner of a business or some other special cases. Even if you matched these certain criteria, you would have only got 256 or 512Kbps. It only needed some time for the government to let go of those criteria and loosen up the internet speed. So how did it happen? Internet Providers would have given you a contract for 128Kbps but they wouldn’t limit you to that speed, they would have sold you the internet traffic by gigabytes. In the past few years with the new government in place, even those restriction have been lifted and internet providers can provide a much faster internet to their customers. Internet providers are also putting so much effort to increase the speed. For example, Shatel, one of the major internet providers in Iran, announced that they would provide internet access with up to 300Mbps and minimum speed of 100Mbps to mega cities in Iran. Shatel claimed that they can cover 70% of mega cities only in 7 months from the start of the project. It also worth mentioning that the cost of this project for Tabriz province is 103 Billion Tomans and for Tehran is lower than 700 Billion Tomans.

Mobile Internet

After ADSL era, Mobile Internet began to rise. Nearly 4 years ago the third operator in Iran, Rightel, began it’s operation, but with very special exclusivity. Rightel had the 3G exclusivity in order to be able to compete with the two other operators: Irancell and MCI. Rightel was supposed to have its exclusivity for two years but the government extended the exclusivity for one more year. This decision caused other Iranian operators not to have access to 3G networks for 3 years. Many tech-savvy and young generation people bought Rightel’s SIM cards only to have access to 3G mobile internet connection.

When Rightel’s exclusivity ended last year, the other two operators entered the market so fast that they even skipped the 3G and started their advertisement on 4G network. Now, the three operators in Iran offer 4G connections to their users but it’s only in the major cities of Iran. The maximum internet speed in Tehran for the three operators MCI, Rightel, Irancell is 8Mbps, 5Mbps, 25Mbps respectively.

Mobile Internet usage is booming

Over the past two years Iranians have seen incredible developments in Mobile Internet penetration. Currently, there is a tough competition between the Mobile Operators to provide better and cheaper services to users. And the fact that Iranians love gadgets, especially smartphones is helping the widespread use of Mobile Internet. Currently, Mobile Internet penetration in Iran is 38.67% with 29,058,719 Iranian connecting to the internet via their cellphones.

ADSL on the second place

Second place in terms of users goes to ADSL connections which has 22.07% penetration with 16,582,53 users and 6,632,821 subscribers.

Dial Up is still alive

you might think that dial up era is over but it’s still alive in Iran. Currently, this outdated technology has 6,934,760 users, 3,467,380 subscribers and penetration of 9.23% in Iran.

Fiber Optic is on

Fiber Optic Technology is the fourth most used method for connecting to the internet in Iran. This technology has 6,106,000 users, 2,656,000 subscribers. The internet penetration based on Fiber Optic is 8.13%.

WIMAX is the last

The lowest penetration rate belongs to WIMAX. With the high penetration rate of mobile Internet it was expected that WIMAX would have a low penetration but it was a surprise that it fell behind the Dial Up. It’s worth mentioning that Irancell plans to shut down WIMAX services in the near future.

Broadband Connections

In terms of broadband connections from last year’s statistics, the broadband penetration rate was 32.31%. According to the first quarter of current fiscal year (Iranian calendar) the broadband penetration rate increased by 16% and reached to 48.37%.

Cities with More Than 100% Internet Penetration Rate

Currently, we have 3 cities with over 100% penetration rate. Obviously Tehran with 14,392,000 users and 11,085,000 subscribers is the lead with the penetration rate of 118.13%.


Mazandaran took the second place by 3,360,472 users and 1,919,000 subscribers and 109% penetration rate.

Other Cities

Other leading provinces were Qom with 1,156,000 users, 100.39% penetration; Isfahan with 4,657,000 users, 95.46% penetration and Khuzestan with 4,298,197 users and 94.85% penetration rate.

Last But Not Least

Based on this report, North Khorasan Province with 41% internet penetration has the lowest Internet penetration rate in the country.


Internet Penetration

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