Iran's telecommunications industry is almost entirely state-owned, dominated by the Telecommunication Company of Iran (TCI). The previous government, headed by the reformist president, Mohammed Khatami, took steps to liberalise the industry in order to expand and improve the services offered, most notably by awarding a contract to Turkcell (a Turkish company) in early 2004 to build and run a new mobile-phone network. However, the project has run into difficulties that threaten to delay the rollout of new capacity. Fixed-line penetration in 2004 was relatively well-developed by regional standards, standing at 22 lines per 100 people, higher than Egypt with 14 and Saudi Arabia with 15, although behind the UAE with 27. In terms of mobile provision in 2004, however, Iran lagged all the countries mentioned above.
The government runs the broadcast media, which includes three national radio stations and two national television networks, as well as dozens of local radio and television stations. As of 1999 there were 72 AM and 6 FM radio stations and 28 television broadcast stations. Television of Iran, a privately owned station, began broadcasting in 1956 in Tehran and Abadan. The national radio organisation and the government television network were merged in 1971 to form National Iranian Radio and Television (NIRT). After 1979, it became the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Company.In 2000 there were 252 radios and 158 television sets for every 1,000 residents . Also in the same year, there were 110 personal computers for every 1,000 residents. Computers for home use became more affordable in the mid-1990s, and since then demand for access to the internet has increased rapidly. In 1998, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (renamed the Ministry of Information & Communication Technology) began selling internet accounts to the general public. ADSL services first began in 2004.
Telephones - main lines in use
21.981 million (2006)
Telephones - mobile cellular
13.659 million (2006)
general assessment: currently being modernised and expanded with the goal of not only improving the efficiency and increasing the volume of the urban service but also bringing telephone service to several thousand villages, not presently connected
domestic: the addition of new fibre cables and modern switching and exchange systems installed by Iran's state-owned telecom company have improved and expanded the main line network greatly; main line availability has more than doubled to 22 million lines since 2000; additionally, mobile service has increased dramatically serving nearly 13.7 million subscribers in 2006
international: country code - 98; submarine fibre-optic cable to UAE with access to Fibre-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG); Trans-Asia-Europe (TAE) fibre-optic line runs from Azerbaijan through the northern portion of Iran to Turkmenistan with expansion to Georgia and Azerbaijan; HF radio and microwave radio relay to Turkey, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Syria, Kuwait, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; satellite earth stations - 13 (9 Intelsat and 4 Inmarsat) (2006)
Radio broadcast stations
AM 72, FM 6, shortwave 5 (1999)
Television broadcast stations
28 (plus 450 repeaters) (1997)
Internet country code
18 million (2006)