Sci & Tech

Iran ISPs Need to Offer Unlimited IPTV Packages

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New TV services are going to uproot terrestrial television like Snapp and Tap30 changed commutin
Aio is the first company to offer an IPTV box for traditional television.
Aio is the first company to offer an IPTV box for traditional television.

Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) has had a troubled birth in Iran with Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting originally revoking the licenses of the first five providers of the service at the end of 2016. 

But another issue is with Internet Service Providers (ISPs) also being slow in offering packages to give the much-needed service a boost.

 IPTV delivers television services using the Internet Protocol suite over a packet-switched network such as LAN or the Internet, instead of being delivered through traditional terrestrial, satellite signal and cable TV formats. What this means is that the weight of that traffic will be levied on the ISPs, and like in many countries those companies do not want bare the cost of people watching videos online. 

The five companies given the right to offer IPTV services in Iran include MTN-Irancell: Iran’s second mobile operator, Aseman; a company owned by the Setade Ejraiye Farmane Emam, better known as Setad, Iran Electronic Publication; an electronic publication company affiliated to the  Islamic Development Organization, Baran Telecom; a consortium formed by Samsung and two IT companies Fanap ICT Company and Arya Hamrah,  and finally, Tarashe Sabz: a consortium set up by merging several unnamed local Internet service providers.

Out of the five which have operating license, only three so far have begun to offer their services; namely Baran Telecom with their Aio service, FAM from Aseman (SETAD) and Irancell with its recently released

Aio and Lenz’s services offer high-definition TV through their services including many of the box set series which have traditionally been sold in corner shops across the country. Many of these productions are of a higher quality regarding casting and production values and are likely to help build the services. For the FAM service information seems limited to desktop and mobile viewing only. 

However, these new services come with a cost to the ISPs -- which is data usage -- and with the industry as it stands today these companies are not ready to offer such packages to host IPTV. This in effect severely hampers the rollout of the new services for consumers. 

This is not an Iranian issue alone, a quick search online dating back over the past decade in Europe and the US shows many ISPs in those countries lamenting the cost of hosting IPTV services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. 

Moreover, for Internet subscribers using either traditional broadband ADSL or even 3G/4G mobile services, the issue of using up your allowance or even racking up prohibitive data bills is now more prescient than ever. Several of the leading ISPs do not offer video streaming packages, making the problem of expanding the new TV service all the more difficult as many subscribers would be reluctant to move internet providers, with many more people not able to do so because available spots in cities already exhausted.

Many of the privately owned ISPs like Pishgaman, Shatel, Pars Online and HiWeb (now partnered with the UK’s Vodafone) do not offer IPTV packages. Seemingly and strangely nor does MTN-Irancell who has already launched its Lenz services through an Android app. Irancell although offering probably the fastest consumer-level Internet in the country also does not offer unlimited services for its 4G home Internet service.

However, according to one firm, Asiatech, which is one the newer ISPs to start in the country, it has already teamed up with several video on demand services including Aio, Filmio, iSeema and Filmnet. On the firm’s VOD page it supposedly offers unlimited viewing of content from those services. However, as the services are new, it remains unknown what the VOD package would cost. 

Considering these new services will be running on internal networks and not streamed from abroad, the per megabyte cost should be less as it will utilize the local Internet which the government has been pushing for the last few years – in theory. Well, they will if the ISPs let them thrive.  

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