Sci & Tech

4G Challenges ADSL

4G Challenges ADSL
4G Challenges ADSL

Rightel, Iran's original 3G mobile operator, has announced its new tie-up with TP-Link, a global provider of networking products like modems, along with a set of home Internet packages.

The partnership, reported by ICTNA, marks a significant shift with all domestic 3G operators preparing to fight ADSL operators on their home turf.

As a greater proportion of people connect to the ever-increasing 3G and 4G LTE telephone networks, wireless operators have acknowledged that the data requirements of such people are increasing as they do more of their Internet tasks through their phones and not through traditional desktop computers and laptops.

Irancell and the older operator Mobile Telecommunications Company of Iran (also known as Hamrahe Aval or MCI) offer the packages as well to a lesser or greater degree.

The three main mobile operators are aiming to tackle the traditional ADSL operators with their faster service and mobile Internet connectivity. However, how the mobile operators fare remains to be seen.

  Clash Over Mobile Connectivity

Iran's ADSL Internet operators are not letting the mobile operators get the lead in the home Internet arena and have stepped up efforts to take on mobile connectivity.

Shatel, Iran's largest private Internet provider, has repeatedly stated that it has been given permission for a 4G LTE license from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

However, when that service takes off is another question, as many of those who applied for the licenses (including Shatel) complained that the ministry is dragging its feet with regard to permissions.

Shatel, famous for its aggressive stance against future competitors, said in November the results of a recent poll show that over 41% of people using services provided by MCI wish to switch over to other operators such as Irancell or RighTel.

Mohammad Mirtavousi, a Shatel official, added that a majority of these people have a high income and demand more satisfactory services.

Shatel is not alone in the fightback, with dozens of other companies attempting to grab a share of the opening mobile market with the issuance of Mobile Virtual Network Operator licenses.

Ali Asghar Amidian, the head of Iran's Communications Regulatory Authority, said the expansion of mobile telecommunications market can be achieved by facilitating the activities of mobile virtual network operators.

Speaking at the Mobile Virtual Network Operators Conference in September, Amidian added that MVNOs are an important growth segment and investment in this sector is lucrative.

Amidian noted at the time three main players are active in the mobile phone sector of Iran, namely Mobile Communications of Iran, MTN-Irancell and RighTel. The first two hold 96% share of the market.

He predicted that MVNOs will have 13 million subscribers and hold 15% share of the mobile market in a decade.

This group will take advantage of the growth in the market of converging Internet connectivity and, if backed by foreign investors, could give the current players a run for their money.

  The Stats

Currently, 63 million SIM cards are registered with the main operator MCI, with half that number for landlines in the country, according to a report by the Telecommunications Company of Iran in October 2015.

This shows the proportion of mobile users is significantly higher and the percentage opting to use mobile Internet now over 24 million.

The comparative pricing between current offers of ADSL versus 3G also make it an intriguing offer for home users. MCI offers a modem deal at 2.7 million rials ($73 at market exchange rate) for the year, including the price of the modem although on limited data usage.

Irancell offers a similar package, on top of their more well-known WiMax service, and RighTel offers the largest data capacity currently with 144 gigabytes for 12 months.

Over the medium term, according to some industry insiders, the playing field is expected to atomize into smaller groups and users are likely to choose a mix of connections rather than opting for one single form of Internet connection.

This, along with the growth of unforeseen types of communications, will help keep the Islamic Republic the most connected country in the Middle East.

Who the main winner will be in the next round, quite frankly, is anyone's guess.