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Iranian Law Sets Reform Agenda for Telecoms Ministry

Iran’s state-owned telecom company is set for a major overhaul
The Telecoms Ministry will be looking for foreign investment to underpin the huge expansion program. The Telecoms Ministry will be looking for foreign investment to underpin the huge expansion program.

The Majlis has defined the obligations of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology as part of the next five-year economic, social and cultural development plan (2016-2021).

According to the new legislation, one of the most important tasks of the ministry is to increase the bandwidth up to 30-terabytes-per-second by March 2021, the closing year of the national plan, Mehr News Agency reported on Saturday.

Digitizing school services and developing government e-services are other obligations of the Telecoms Ministry as the government moves ahead with the huge task of expanding online services in the country of 80 million people.

The ministry is also required to attract private sector collaboration and foreign investment to help develop telecom infrastructure and also boost the related aerospace projects.

 Structural Reform

Another duty of the ministry is to undertake structural reforms at the Telecommunications Infrastructure Company of Iran (TIC) which is the exclusive provider of bandwidth to local Internet companies.

The firm, which is in charge of expanding the telecom sector, will be divided into three companies whose performance will be supervised and coordinated by the planned national telecommunication company.

According to the news agency, the three state-run firms are: the International Data Transit Company, Research and Development Company and Infrastructure Development Company. The law stipulates that the three will operate independently of each other.

Observers view the new piece of legislation as an anomaly  when seen from the perspective of the government’s declared policy to downsize and reduce its interventions in the struggling economy.

One of the key problems of the economy is the bloated bureaucracy, the army of state and government institutions plus cumbersome regulations that have long inhibited the progress of private enterprise.

Earlier in November 2016, Masoud Fattah, the ministry’s public relations director had said the growth and size of TIC had “made reforms inevitable for future expansion.”

The company’s significant growth is said to be due to the enactment of a previous law that enabled TIC to invest in expansion projects.

At the time the TIC official had said that reforms would enable the ministry to offer a wider range of services and boost the national information network. “Reforms will allow Iran to play a stronger role in this sector.”

 Smart Schools

Saturday’s legislation also holds the Telecoms Ministry partly responsible for digitizing the national school system. It states that the this ministry and the Ministry of Education are obliged to equip all schools in towns and cities (with populations less  than 20,000) with modern means of free education in schools.

The process would include technology transfer, purchasing computers and tablets, providing electronic education material to students and upgrading educational counseling to digitized formats.

 

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