Economy, Business And Markets

Iran Joins Countries With 4G LTE

Iran Joins Countries With 4G LTEIran Joins Countries With 4G LTE

On December 3, as many as 9 major cities across Iran were officially covered with the wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones and data terminals known as Long-Term Evolution, commonly marketed as 4G LTE.

LTE aims to increase the capacity and speed of wireless data networks using new digital signal processing (DSP) techniques.

The LTE wireless interface is incompatible with 2G and 3G networks, so it must be operated on a separate wireless spectrum and naturally needs a separate SIM card.  

The LTE was test-launched on November 20 in the northeastern city of Mashhad, and now the 4G subscribers can supposedly benefit from high internet speed of between 10 to 40Mbs while they could upload on 15Mbs.

Through LTE, subscribers have a faster and more reliable access to online services in different spheres such as education, transportation, location-based services, entertainment, and healthcare.

Irancell's move to introduce 4G is in line with the country's Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (to end March 20, 2016) based on which Iranian mobile phone users should have access to a 20-Mbs internet speed.

According to the targets of the plan, by the end of the five-year plan, 80% of the bills should be paid electronically, all government services should be provided online or electronically, and at least 60% of families and businesses should be able to connect to the national data network, noted Alireza Qalambor Dezfouli, the CEO of MTN-Irancell whose joint Iranian-South African operator is the first among the three major mobile phone operators in the country that provide 4G.

Today, nearly half of the world's total population has potential access to some kind of 3G or 4G network, which is five times the level of mobile coverage of five years ago.

The number of 4G mobile subscribers worldwide, which was 1,182,000 in 2010, is currently 203,268,000 and is expected to reach 1.81 billion in 2020, according to the online statistics portal Statista.

Apart from all the benefits 3G and 4G offer mobile phone users including facilitating data transfer at higher speeds compared to previous network generations; broadband networks, services, and applications can help generate economic growth and achieve social progress in any domestic economy, based on a report published by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) last year.

The technology also accelerates innovation by introducing new consumer applications and services like new forms of commerce and financial intermediation. The enterprises could maximize their reach and access to different segments of the market, and consumers through the broadband technology.

The prices for such an advanced service in Iran are much cheaper than many countries, although the per capita income, which is $4,769 in Iran based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), should also be considered in the comparison.

A plan that provides 13 gigabytes of internet for a year costs almost 840,000 rials ($24.8) in Iran, while an Australian, with a per capita income of $64,578 has to pay $200 for the same plan.

The 4th generation of mobile phone broadband technology was first proposed in 2004 by the Japanese telecom firm NTT DoCoMo. Then in 2007, the Japanese firm together with the Swedish Ericsson tested the LTE with the speeds as high as 200 Mbs and 144 Mbs respectively.

The LTE standard was finalized in December 2008, and the first publicly available LTE service was launched by TeliaSonera in Oslo and Stockholm.

Currently there are 331 LTE networks across 112 countries around the globe and the monthly data traffic is predicted to reach 15 exabytes (each exabyte equals 1 billion gigabytes), showing an 11-fold increase compared with that of 2013.

Using LTE has substantially decreased the costs people have to bear for different electronic devices.

A modern smart phone capable of connecting to 4G networks simultaneously acts as a camera, video camera, voice recorder, TV set, game console, lap top computer or PC, calculator, etc.

Back in 1991, you had to pay over $3,000 if you wanted to buy all such devices separately.

Iran is now the 25th country in the world by number of internet users with at least 20.5 million users, which constitute 26% of the population.

Of Iran’s 78 million citizens, 70% are under 30. The mobile penetration rate, which exceeded 110% during 2012, is another reason global ICT companies could be optimistic about investing in the Islamic Republic.

The recent introduction of broadband internet for mobile phones seems to be a victory for President Hassan Rouhani's administration who managed to lift the restrictions that had long throttled mobile internet speeds in the country.

Officials, including Mahmoud Va'ezi, the minister of communications and information technology, have on numerous occasions invited countries to invest and collaborate in projects to establish partnerships for ultra broadband corridors across the country.

Broadband revenue in the country is expected to increase by 124% between 2011 and 2016 to reach $1.2 billion.