Iran’s telecom infrastructure continues to suffer from sanctions, which over the last few years has prevented the import of equipment and devices. This has encouraged widespread smuggling, and consequently the loss of tax revenue.
The government has made use of its wide but opaque powers to enforce digital repression in various forms. It has imposed network blackouts, restricted the range of mobile apps available, compelled the telecom regulator to monitor internet traffic and report the activities of protestors, activists and others suspected of opposing the government. All the while, it has expanded the reach of its national intranet, which offers only government-approved Islamic content.
Operators have invested in broadening the reach of their LTE networks, which has increased network capacity and improved the quality of mobile broadband services. There has also been investment in 5G, though the development of this sector has been hampered by the paucity of available spectrum. To address this, the government planned imminently to release spectrum in the 3.7-3.8GHz range for 5G.
From a broad perspective, Iran offers significant opportunities for growth in the telecoms sector. The country has one of the largest populations in the Middle East, and there is a high proportion of youthful, tech savvy users having considerable demand for both fixed and mobile telecom services. However, the free use of such services is hampered by government control and regulatory monitoring, conditions which severely limit the market’s potential for growth and innovation.
Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI), Mobile Communications Iran (MCI), MTN Irancell, Tamin Telecom (Rightel)
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