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MTN Planning New Foray Into Iran

MTN Group is negotiating with the government to invest in the fiber-optics network.MTN Group is negotiating with the government to invest in the fiber-optics network.

South African-based MTN Group is negotiating with the Telecommunication Infrastructure Company of Iran (TIC) about investing in the expansion of the  fiber-optic network.

One area of interest is the fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) services, which the multibillion-dollar telephone network is looking to invest in, albeit with a caveat, local technology website ICTNA reported.

According to the TIC chief, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, MTN has conditioned its investment to receiving its money back from the government if the project fails to make a profit.

Jahromi said, “The Communications Regulatory Authority of Iran is studying MTN’s offer.”

Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH), also called “fiber to the premises” (FTTP), is the installation and use of optical fiber from a central point directly to individual buildings such as residences, apartment buildings and businesses to provide high-speed Internet access.

After President Hassan Rouhani took office in 2013, his administration has endeavored to expand the fiber-optic network including the FTTH services, but to no avail.

In October 2016, the Telecommunications Company of Iranian and an official Vietnamese delegation present at the Iran Telecom Innovations Exhibition agreed to collaborate to provide FTTH services in the country. A joint committee was to be created to prepare the legal and financial work for the project. The project died before it was born.

One of the main reasons for the failure of the project — and many other similar ones — has been the reluctance of private firms to invest in it. FTTH projects can be lucrative in the long-run but the companies have to invest for extended periods before the yields start coming in.

MTN Group is a South Africa-based multinational mobile telecommunications company which has been active in Iran for more than a decade under the brand name MTN-Irancell.

MTN-Irancell has two shareholders: Iran Electronic Development Company (IEDC) (51%), and MTN International (Mauritius) Limited (49%).

MTN has sought to invest in several projects and services in recent years, including startups like Snapp and Mozando, through money it earned from its joint venture with Irancell.

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