Iran achieves 91 percent telecommunications penetration

At the end of 2010, there were a total of 67.5 million
subscribers in Iran, equivalent to a penetration rate of 91 percent, according
to BMI Iran Telecommunications Report.

Average annual growth over the next five years ended 2015
is expected to be 8.4 percent with the total number of mobile subscribers
reaching close to 101 million, equivalent to a penetration rate of 128 percent.

This research believes that this includes a high proportion
of inactive subscribers, given that competition among the operators remains
fierce, helping to drive up prepaid subscribers. This has given rise to a
blended ARPU of $8, which remained flat over the year.

Growth across the internet market remains equally stagnant, not least of all
due to high bandwidth costs, while alternative services such as WiMAX remain equally stunted.

MTN Irancell reported a 44 percent market share,
equivalent to a total of 29.743 million users. The remainder of the market is
made up of four other operators: market leader MCI, third-ranked operator
Taliya and two smaller regional operators, all of which have not published

Operators such as MTN Irancell have complained of poor content and capacity as
the two major reasons for the lack in take-up. The Iranian government continues
to strictly monitor internet content. According to a recent report published by
an American NGO, Iran offers the least internet freedom.

This outlook is further compounded by news that the state
is looking to create its own countrywide intranet, which looks to offer an
alternative to the World Wide Web and allows the government to control content
more easily.

A further reason behind the slow take-up of internet services relates to poor
fixed-line infrastructure. In a market such as Iran where mobile penetration
rates are above 90 percent, a decline in fixed-line demand is expected.

However, given the lack of fixed-line coverage in rural
areas, this has led TCI, the incumbent operator, to continue deploying copper
networks across the country. This has boosted fixed-line demand, so that, by
the end of 2009, there were a total of 25.8 million lines, following a y-o-y
increase of 4 percent.

While the remainder of our outlook expects the fixed-line
sector to continue growing, should services such as VoIP services become more
affordable and widespread, this could see a decline in PSTN.

By Team
[email protected]