In the past four years, the Iranian government deployed ICT effectively in many fields. Here are some of the achievements in Iran’s ICT sector in the recent years.
These days our lives hover around internet and the digital world. In the recent years Iran’s government understood this undeniable fact, gave it much more attention and started to invest hefty budgets in this field. If you’ve been following our articles on TechRasa you’d feel the positive vibe that we’ve been trying to convey to our readers about “the changes” in Iran’s ICT sector. The first question that I usually get asked from our foreign readers looking into the Iranian market is “what exact changes have you witnessed in the past couple of years?”. For people living in Iran who’ve witnessed the gradual changes, this might seem like a rhetorical question, but for people outside of the country this article would hopefully give them a better understating of the current situation in Iran.
The first and foremost changes that we saw in Iran’s ICT sector was the outcome of the investments in the country’s infrastructure. In 1993 Iran became the second country in the Middle East to get connected to the Internet. Although we had a good start back then, the country lacked of a genuine growth in the years after. The internet naturally began to find it’s place among the young and educated Iranians in the late 90s and early 2000s thanks to the community of Persian bloggers in the country. But the users were still suffering from the slow internet speeds and the limits on the ADSL services from the ISPs.
There are contradictory statistics about Iran’s current internet penetration, but our reliable sources show that this number has reached to 52% and the country has 42 million internet users. Although the internet speed and the quality of the services are still far from perfect compared to many other countries, the gradual shift and the improvements are vivid.
Since 2012 when President Rouhani came to office, the government showed its ambition to work on the internet infrastructure in the country. According to Statistical Center of Iran, 13.5 million households (55.5% of the population) in Iran have access to internet. Of this number, 7 million households (51.9%) have access to fixed high-speed internet connection and 10.7 million households (79%) have access to wireless high-speed internet.
In 2013 the internet bandwidth in Iran was 624 Gbps (Gigabits per second) and it has now reached to 14,000 Gbps. Last year the government announced its plans to increase this number to 120,000 Gbps in 2017.
In the past years, the internet prices also saw a decline, specially for content uploaded on domestic servers. Iranian ISPs currently charge less for the bandwidth used for Iranian websites such as Aparat, the domestic version of YouTube in Iran.
In 2007 Iranians benefited from mobile internet when three of the mobile network operators – MCI (Hamrah-e Aval), MTN and Talia – started to provide GPRS and later Edge services to their users. Years after in 2012 Rightel the fourth mobile operator in Iran, launched its services and provided 3G internet for its users. Around a year after, Rightel’s 3G internet monopoly ended and other operators started their campaigns on 3G and 4G internet and gave a new spirit to the country’s IT sector.
These days its pretty common to see people who don’t have a fixed internet connection at home and are using 4G and LTE services on their mobile devices. Currently 742 cities Iran have access to 4G internet.
According to Statistical Center of Iran, Mobile penetration (amongst users with the age of 6 and older) is 77.9%, while for urban and rural areas this number is 80.5% and 70.8% respectively. This number has seen a 24% growth since 2010.
Internet in Rural Areas
According to Mahmoud Vaezi, Iran’s Minister of Communications, Since 3.5 years ago 27,000 villages have been connected to the internet while before Rouhani’s government non of the villages in the country had access to high speed internet. According to official statements, by the end of the eleventh government of Iran, 95% of the villages in the country with over 20 households would have access to high speed internet.
Support of the Startups
The startup movement in Iran started to shape around four years ago. The current government also started its work in 2012 and ever since then it has given its financial and spiritual support to many of the startups in the country. Numerous startup events were also financially supported by the government in order to spread the sprit of entrepreneurship in the days of sanctions.
Many foreign messaging apps and social media platforms also saw the support of the government in times of trouble and even some negotiated with the Ministry of Communications to officially provide their services in Iran.
What are your thoughts about these changes in Iran’s ICT sector? If you’re someone who’s been traveling to Iran back and forth, let us know in the comments about the changes that you’ve gradually felt in the recent years.