BMI View: Iran's mobile penetration was reported as exceeding 110% in the third quarter 2012. Although the fixed-line and internet sectors continue to record positive growth, they remain restricted by tight government regulation, censorship and underinvestment in network infrastructure. All three sectors present significant growth opportunities, but we expect the mobile sector to continue to outperform because of superior network investment and competition between the operators.
- MTN revealed that it had 39.382mn subscribers at the end of Q312.
- MTN ARPU fell to US$7.4 in the third quarter of 2012.
- Besides MTN, there has been no new data released by the ITU or other operators, and therefore new data in our Q213 report are based on BMI estimations.
- Quarterly mobile growth averaged 3.5% in the 12 months to September 2012.
Despite jumping up three places in our Q113 ratings, Iran remains unchanged in 11th place in Q312. Its score fell slightly however, due to reductions in Industry Rewards and Country Risks score. Net additions were 1.4mn, the lowest since December 2010, and political tensions remain high. Sanctions imposed by the Western world continue to cripple the economy and we have seen a recent collapse in imports as a result. Private consumption is likely to remain subdued for some time to come.
Key Trends And Developments
In December 2012 Iran rolled out its own video-sharing website Mehr, which is operated by the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB). The website will allow people to share their short videos and access IRIB-generated material.
Iran will serve as an internet service provider to other countries by March 2013, according to the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Ministry. This development will take place after the first phase of the Europe-Persia Express Gateway (EPEG), which is a communications highway connecting Europe with Eastern Asia, starts operations by March 20 2013.
In November 2012 the Iranian ICT Minister Reza Taqipour proposed manufacturing a joint satellite for the use of telecoms services for the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) member states.
In November 2012 Reza Taghipour pushed for South African mobile operator MTN to sell a 21% stake in MTN Irancell. The minister claimed the stake sale was included in the terms of Irancell's concession.