Economy, Sci & Tech

4G Internet for Rural Residents

4G Internet for Rural Residents4G Internet for Rural Residents

Traditional ADSL Internet provider, HiWeb, has announced it is expanding into new territory by offering 4G Internet packages to rural areas across Iran, extending high-speed web connections for the first time.

The new program is part of the government's universal service obligation to get rural areas online, to bridge the "digital divide" between rural and urban areas.

USO is the obligation placed on universal service providers to ensure that standard telephone services, payphones and prescribed carriage services are reasonably accessible to all people in Iran on an equitable basis, wherever they reside or carry on business.

Initially, as part of the new service, residents of rural areas such as West Azarbaijan, Sistan-Baluchestan, Isfahan, Gilan and Ardabil will be able to apply for the service.

It is not known if this service is entirely new or is the first non-traditional mobile operator to offer a Mobile Virtual Network (MVNO) piggybacking on the traditional players like MCI and MTN-Irancell.

Hassan Rezvani, the CEO of HiWeb, said 500 SIM cards and modems will be sent out to each rural area to begin with.

The company chief added that to register for the new plan, people would have to log on to the website and register for the modem and SIM card.

The cost of the new plan is comparable to more traditional lines with a 500-mb one year connection costing 580 thousand rials ($16).

The second plan would cost 700 thousand rials ($20) for a year for a 1 gigabyte of data. The third and more expensive plan would cost 1,800,000 ($50) for 3 GB of data.

The modems cost from 1,500,000 rials ($42) for a mobile dongle to 4,990,000 ($142) for a home modem unit. Finally, the external weather-proof modem will cost villagers 7,500,000 rials ($214), however this can be used as a communal connection point.

Rural residents will have to go to the nearest town with Internet connectivity to sign up for the new service.

  The Wider Problem of Connectivity

In April, Iran's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology released a set of data on the country's information and technology developments that showed the capital Tehran and the southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan as the best and worst provinces respectively in terms of ICT development and connectivity.

The data were released by the Bureau for Technical and Economic Inspection, affiliated to the deputy for planning and strategic monitoring at the Telecoms Ministry, Mehr News Agency reported.  

The least developed provinces in that report were Sistan-Baluchestan, North Khorasan and Lorestan.

During the first nine months of the last Iranian year (started March 21, 2015), the average score for the index in Iran was 5.03. At 7.37, Tehran scored 2.34 points above the national average and the least developed province, Sistan-Baluchestan, scored 2.28 point below average in terms of national indicators like economic development.