Iran’s telecom sector presents opportunities and challenges in 2015
The telecoms market is very important to the Iran economy and provides one the largest non-oil based revenue streams. Improving and expanding telecoms infrastructure has been the focus of investment in recent years, and Iran’s tech-savvy, young population is eager to take up next generation services.
In recent years, foreign companies were reluctant to invest in Iran’s ICT market due to sanctions placed against it. But with the easing and possible lifting of these sanctions; it is expected that attention will again turn towards this potentially lucrative market.
Current penetration levels indicate room for continued revenue growth. Mobile data services are available but account for a small proportion of total revenue. This is expected to increase over time as mobile data services increasingly underpin future revenue growth, made possible by the launch of 3G/HSPA services. In November 2014 the first 4G LTE network was also launched by MTN Irancell.
Despite the relatively low penetration of fixed broadband in Iran; there are moves underway to improve broadband access, with the FttX operator Iranian-Net currently deploying a fibre network which aims to have 8 million customers by 2020.
It is impossible to discuss Iran’s telecom sector without considering the impact of censorship. Tensions over unresolved censorship issues continue to stifle Iran’s telecoms growth as the government attempts to restrict or block access to various online and mobile apps. Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp are just some of the social apps which have faced banning in Iran.
However at the same time, the country is developing its own local versions of similar international services. Aparat is one example, which offers Iranian’s a YouTube-like-service. Iran is also a large user of its social media network called Crood and Mihanblog.com is a popular local blogging site. For photo-sharing Iran has established a site called Lenzor and another initiative is the development of its own search engine “Yooz”. In 2015 it was reported that Iranian’s may soon have access to their own mobile messaging service called Zoobi.
The e-commerce sector has experienced local organic development as well. Without access to eBay or Amazon, Iran’s own Esam became a replacement, and instead of PayPal, Iran offers its own ZarinPal.
Key telecom parameters – 2012; 2015
|Subscribers to telecoms services (million): (e)|
Companies covered in this report include:
Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI), Mobile Communications Iran (MCI), MTN Irancell, Tamin Telecom (Rightel), Rafsanjan Industrial Complex (Taliya), Mobile Telecommunications Company of Isfahan (MTCE), Telecommunication Kish Company (TKC).