The ICT Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran said that his government is looking to boost internet connections in the country to a minimum of 20 Megabits per second within the next five years. The Minister, Mr. Barat Ghanbari says that the scheme will be backed by an investment of USD15 billion, half of which will go to the state-owned Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI).
Iranian Mehr News Agency quotes Ghanbari as saying that internet services in rural areas will be expanded via the deployment of 4G LTE mobile technology. For many years most residential internet connections in Iran were limited to a maximum speed of 128kbps. It was in September 2014 that the authorities decided to remove the maximum speed cap.
In parallel, the TCI is set to forge stronger ties with Kazakhtelecom, with the two telcos signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) covering the development of new services. This will open new international traffic routes between the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. The two countries intend to link their respective networks either via a direct trans-Caspian cable or overland through a neighboring country.
Telecommunication sector in Iran, in general, has suffered severely from the sanctions imposed on the country. Many of the global suppliers had stopped business to Iranian customers, that caused supply shortage and uncertainty in the telecom projects. The removal of the ban on several products is expected to boost and revive the telecom sector.
Iran is home to the fiber optic cable manufacturers such as SGCC and Rafsanjan, who supply optical fiber cables to the domestic customers. International cable routes pass through Iran that connects Europe with Middle East Asia. In 2011 a consortium of four leading telecom carriers from four countries signed the Construction and Maintenance Agreement for the new cable system called Europe-Persia Express Gateway (EPEG). The new system with an initial capacity of 540 (54×10) Gbps was put in operation in December 2012.
The EPEG becomes a brand new high capacity fiber optic cable system which links Europe with the Middle East and a possibility of further extension to Gulf regional countries and India subcontinent. The system passes from Frankfurt across Eastern Europe, Russia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Persian Gulf to Barka, Sultanate of Oman. EPEG members Cable & Wireless, Rostelecom, Omantel, and TIC build and develop part of the network which operates through their own country. The route via Azerbaijan is organized on the basis of the capacity of the EPEG associated partner – Delta Telecom. The design capacity of the EPEG system is up to 3.2 Tbps with total length approx. 10,000 km, about 9,500 km is a terrestrial fiber cable.
The EPEG allows a telecommunication transit route alternative to the Red Sea, Suez Canal, Egypt, and the Mediterranean Sea regions and plays an important role for traffic re-routing in case of earthquakes and disasters, which have been known to affect multiple systems at once.