South African telecom company MTN started its negotiations on getting involved in Iran’s national fiber optic project less than a year ago.

Currently Iran’s fiber optic project is in contract with a company called Iranian Net (Also known as the fourth operator). The company has a monopoly on the contract since 2011. Even though the company’s progress in the past 4 years has been disappointing, the monopoly contract got extended to 3 more additional years extending the contract to 2019.

Iran’s internet connections still run with the old school DSL/ADSL technology and broadband internet has yet to be commercialized. Iran’s mobile internet infrastructure surpassed home internet technologies in much higher pace. The government called for a “fourth operator” (after MCI, Irancell and Rightel) to take on the project of Iran’s fiber optic infrastructure development and broadband internet.The company chosen to take the project was Iranian Net. The international telecom company MTN which is also operating in Iran as the famous MTN Irancell (or the “second operator”), entered in negotiations to take part in the national fiber optic and broadband internet project months ago.

Because of the international sanctions, MTN’s revenue money in Iran has been blocked and frozen. Conducted by the company’s consultancy group Delta Group which also has Iranian Net and Rocket Internet as clients, a series of investments has been decided to use the blocked money MTN had in the country. One of the announced investments has been in the Romak group, having Bamilo, Zood Food, Snapp and Pintapin in their holding. Another investment interest MTN has in mind is the nation’s telecom and internet infrastructure. Last year Irancell proposed to invest or acquire Iranian Net (the fourth operator).

Months before Mohsen Bagheri, the CEO of Iranian Net told Tasnim News that an international telecom company that has also invested in a mobile operator in Iran (pointing to MTN) is joining Iranian Net as an investor. When the Iran deal was signed resulting the sanction relief, he stated “ The development and design of a mutual business plan with a foreign telecom company has been started. The joint business plan has been requested by the foreign telecom company and will be developed and designed by Delta Group. Our mutual cooperations proceed according to that [the business plan].”

Iranian Net’s current business plan has not been approved by MTN. The two companies are in meetings to finalize the deal. Initially, Iranian Net was meant to announce the cooperation method with MTN before the Persian new year. It is said the final deal and cooperation methods will be announced by the end of this Persian month.

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