Sci & Tech

Internet Access to Expand in Mazandaran

Internet  Access  to Expand in Mazandaran
Internet  Access  to Expand in Mazandaran

In an attempt to connect the entire country to the World Wide Web, Mazandanran Information Council has officially announced that all villages in the northern province of Mazandaran will be given Internet access through Telecommunications Company of Iran (TCI) by the end of the Iranian year (ending March 19), IRNA reported.

Nearly 75 percent of the villages in the province are already connected, Ahmad Mozaffari, secretary of the council, said on Saturday.

"There are currently 2.8 million Internet users in Mazandaran," he said adding that 93 percent of the province is already connected via dial-up, broadband, WiMAX and mobile Internet services.

Expanding the network will certainly ease the spread of information and help home education as well, he said.

The importance of connectivity has grown exponentially in Iran as the web can be used to lessen government bureaucracy and costs. The Iranian government is a big proponent of pushing Internet technologies and the administration's e-government initiatives have helped reduce waiting periods for a number of governmental services.

In Iran, many of the procedures at governmental organizations, the municipality and post offices are done via Internet.

This, however, has been an inconvenience to the residents of villages in Iran that have no or limited Internet access; villagers need to commute to larger cities nearby for even the most basic of processes, such as registering for a university program. Time and cost efficiency will be the immediate benefits of connecting more villages and remote areas in Iran to the information superhighway.  

The slowness of TCI in implementing broadband Internet in rural areas is partly due to the overall cost of sending fiber optic cables to areas with low population density. However, this problem isn't an Iran-only issue; it has also played out in many other countries. National telecoms networks struggle to fund such exercises due to the overall costs of installations and lack of return by the communities.

No one from the Mazandaran Information Council was available for comment on the issue when the Financial Tribune contacted its office.

Iran's rural Internet roll-out has been slow compared with other countries globally; the news of Mazadandaran pushing the initiative is a positive turn of events.

Nationwide the Internet picture is also improving with the announcement of the Europe-Persia Express Gateway, a superfast Internet connection coming via the country's northwestern region of Azarbaijan and heading down the Chabahar port on the Gulf of Oman. This new Internet connection will increase speeds throughout the country by eight times the Information Telecommunications Network announced in April.

In Europe, the United Kingdom is leading the way, with one community-based company called B4RN, bypassing that country's national telecoms company, British Telecom, having installed their own hi-speed Internet service as community members paid the initial up-front costs themselves.