Economy, Sci & Tech

TCI to Launch Fiber Services in 14 Provinces

South African, Chinese and Finnish telecom companies have made a foray into Iran to claim as big as possible a share of the emerging market of fiber optic services
(L-R Front) MTN CEO Rob Shuter, Telecoms Minister Mahmoud Vaezi, Iranian Net CEO Mohsen Baqeri in Tehran on May 8.(L-R Front) MTN CEO Rob Shuter, Telecoms Minister Mahmoud Vaezi, Iranian Net CEO Mohsen Baqeri in Tehran on May 8.

Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI) has joined hands with three foreign firms — Huawei and Fiber Home from China and Finland’s Nokia — to expand its fiber optic network and launch Fiber to the Home (FTTH) services in Iran.

Fiber to the Home 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 unprecedented high-speed Internet access. FTTH dramatically increases the connection speeds available to computer users compared with technologies now used in most places.

On Monday South Africa’s MTN announced it is set to invest $300 million in the local fixed broadband provider Iranian Net Communication and Electronic Services and lend the company $450 million for establishment and expansion of its FTTH network, local technology website CITNA reported.

According to TCI network director Reza Khalili, the Iranian state-owned firm is set to launch FTTH projects in 14 provinces simultaneously with the three foreign companies. All three firms have official branches in Tehran, according to checks by Financial Tribune.

Fiber Home is a Chinese state-owned networking and telecommunication equipment provider. It is collaborating with TCI in several projects, providing infrastructure and hardware for expansion of the telecoms network.

Huawei, which won the biggest share, is set to offer FTTH services in Tehran and two other provinces, with four provinces going to Nokia and the rest to Fiber Home. Huawei has also signed several deals with TCI with the last aiming to integrate and upgrade landline and mobile telecommunications network.

Moreover, Nokia has a deal with Iranian LTE-TDD (4G) Service Providers’ Consortium — spearheaded by Shatel, Iran’s largest private broadband Internet provider — for optimizing the use of LTETDD technology.The Tribune contacted the public relations offices of both Huawei and Nokia, however, they could not provide details on the FTTH rollout.

MTN’s Winning Hand

Meanwhile, the deal between Iranian Net and MTN has been brokered by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.

Rob Shuter, CEO of MTN, signed the agreement in Tehran with Telecoms Minister Mahmoud Vaezi and CEO of Iranian Net Mohsen Bagheri-Chenari after months of discussion about MTN entering the fiber optic market.

The long-awaited investment will give the South African firm a minority share of 49% in the company.

MTN is already a big investor in Iran, holding 49% share of MTN Irancell, the second largest mobile operator in the country. The firm also has shares in other technology-based companies and startups, including business like Snapp (Iran’s first ride-hailing service) and Bamilo (the second biggest local e-retailer). During the signing ceremony, Vaezi said, “Iranian Net has been endeavoring to attract foreign investment to launch the FTTH services in the past two years.”

According to the official website of Iranian Net, the company is already testing fiber optic services in the city of Karaj, but no details have been published yet.

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