Sci & Tech

MTN-Irancell Event Highlights Potentials and Challenges

Iran’s second largest operator is pushing ahead with plans to boost 4G connectivity
MTN-Irancell has been offering 4G Internet since 2016.MTN-Irancell has been offering 4G Internet since 2016.
Irancell has attracted $6.6 billion in investments over the past decade

Iran’s second largest mobile operator, MTN-Irancell launched new projects during a ceremony at the company’s headquarters over the Iranian weekend.

Services include online Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) to Near Field Communication (NFC) payment services, according to a company press release.

IPTV is the delivery of television content using signals based on the logical Internet protocol (IP). The service offers the ability to stream the source media continuously.

NFC is a set of communication protocols that enables two electronic devices to establish communication by bringing them within 4 cm of each other. These usually include a POS payment facility and a phone in close proximity. 

 Growth in Subscriptions 

In the ceremony company CEO, Alireza Ghalambor Dezfouli outlined the company’s current projects and achievements.

According to Dezfouli, MTN-Irancell now has 47.5 million subscribers from which 28.3 million use smartphones regularly.

He said “1,700 terabytes of data are transferred through the company’s network on a daily basis which accounts for about 30% of online data transferred in Iran.”

MTN-Irancell has 85.9% network coverage of Iran.

Dezfouli said the company now offers third generation (3G) Internet services in 1,606 cities and rural areas. The company’s 3G service has 19.3 million users across both mobile and home Internet connections.

It is also now offering 4G connectivity in 468 cities and villages that has 3.9 million users.

During the current fiscal that ends in March, the number of MTN-Irancell 4G subscribers has grown 514%.

 Rising Revenues 

Dezfouli added that MTN-Irancell’s revenues increased 809% during the last 11 months, thanks to the growth of their new generation telephone services.

“Irancell has attracted $6.6 billion investment during the past ten years 30% of which was made by foreign firms,” including the minority parent company MTN of South Africa.” 

 MVNO Deals

After lengthy negotiations, MTN-Irancell forged deals with two Iranian Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs). The companies are Hamrah Hoshmand Ayande (part of the TOSAN Group) and Negin Ertebat Ava (Ava Communication Industries).

The company is negotiating with 20 other companies that have MVNO service permits.

Reports of the new deals come after last week’s comments by the Telecoms Minister Mahmoud Vaezi who had criticized MCI (Iran’s largest mobile operator) and MTN-Irancell for their apparent refusal to forge deals with MVNOs.

Vaezi had complained that “Some companies reluctance to forge deals with MVNOs stems from their desire to protect their monopoly in the mobile telecommunication market.”

Dezfouli also spoke about MTN-Irancell’s recently launched Mobile Number Portability (MNP) service. 

MNP allows users from one network to take their existing telephone number to a competitor, in theory, the first company should offer details of the client to the second. 

However, the project has hit the buffers from the get-go as at least one operator failed to comply with customers’ requests to switch networks.  

Dezfouli claimed that since the scheme was launched, 66,000 subscribers of MCI tried to move to the MTN-Irancell network. MTN-Irancell never received a significant part of those requests and MCI also said it had no record of the transfer requests.  

Only 36% of them were successful in switching since its launch last August. 

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