Economy, Business And Markets

Internet Industry Facing New Challenges

Internet Industry Facing New ChallengesInternet Industry Facing New Challenges

The founder and head of Iran’s first private internet provider, Shatel Communications Group, has described the overall challenges and potentials of the Iranian telecommunications and internet market in the country. Hassan Shanesaz-zadeh gave an overview of his company’s plans to hold its own against the onslaught of mobile internet providers now starting in Iran.

Financial Tribune: What is your feeling of the general state of the home internet market and how do you expect to go in the near future?

Shanesaz-zadeh: I’m happy with my company’s progression in recent years. In the 12 years of the Shatel’s history, the company has managed to develop and offer VOIP, ADSL, fiber optic networks services as well as keeping his company in the lead in terms of development of new products and services.

The company could have achieved more if it were not for the lack in technical support from Iran’s only telecoms provider.

My company has roughly 200 thousand people on the waiting lists to sign up for his ADSL services around the country, but delays have forced them to put people on hold. If Telecommunications Company of Iran were not for their slowness in upgrading infrastructure the industry as a whole would have better service.

Because I have to pay a proportion of my company’s profit to TCI, the company makes less than the national provider. Considering the technical challenges, Shatel remains number one with over 700 thousand consumers around the country purchasing at least one of if services.

What was the most successful point

in Shatel’s history?

I helped develop Shatel from a tiny provider of VOIP in 1999 to the country’s leading internet provider in 2015. One of my main achievements was to develop the company into a powerful body in the telecommunications sector. Through my time as president, I successfully managed to partner with ZyXEL – a Chinese technology company – to offer their modems and equipment to their hundreds of thousands of customers. Having this many customers and also managing to retain them was one of the major hurdles in the past few years, one which I steered against existing and emerging competition. The company now runs a completely paperless billing service, a first for many Iranian companies.

What is the largest challenge on the horizon to Shatel’s dominance?

Without a doubt, our biggest competition currently and in the next few years is Irancell and their 3G, LTE services. Out of all competition, Irancell is the most organized and professional in terms of mobile. They have back support from South Africa and could quite easily implement similar technical and market strategies in the Iranian market. In the medium term, TCI was the most likely threat in terms of fixed-lines; however, currently they are not as advanced in terms of technological achievement as Shatel.

What do you see as your biggest areas of growth in the upcoming years?

Shatel has been working with South Korean Telecom to upgrade their overall services, and they have a ten year contract with them. I saw that growth in new VOIP services being an area of potential profit for my company. I believe with the growth of digital communications our company with its experience in this industry is leading the charge in pushing consumers to VOIP and HD audio calls.

Do you want to enter the e-commerce market?

Our Company is currently trialing a new “Shateland” service. The e-commerce site is not available to the public as it’s currently being programmed. Companies like Digikala are popular search terms in Alexa rankings for Iran. I believe I could contribute to this young but growing industry.

Currently websites like DigiKala are restricted to Tehran and other select cities, whereas Shatel’s satellite offices would be able to meet a larger base of customers when their service goes live.

Are you ready for the end of sanctions?

If sanctions were lifted against Iran’s economy, I would seek to work with foreign partners. Foreign MNCs need local expertise when entering unknown markets and business information is not readily available. Shatel has years of experience in dealing with a few select telecommunications companies, as our industry is not sanctioned. Shatel is now the only company dealing VOIP services with foreign companies and the industry will grow significantly if sanctions are lifted.

Where do you think your company will be in five years?

I hope and expect, looking at our current growth, to be the third largest telecoms provider in the country, after Irancell and TCI. The current structure of Iran’s telecoms providers will be radically shaken when regulations for porting numbers and private lines are relaxed.