Iran unveils new phases of telecom networks

Financial Tribune- Iran’s Ministry of Communication and Information Technology unveiled a second phase of the National Information Network (NIN) on February 6.

The event was held on occasion of the 10-Day Dawn festivities marking the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, ICTNA reported.

In addition to the second phase of the National Information Network, two other projects were also unveiled, namely a scheme to help ensure safety of children online and an online identification system.

Child Online Protection

Children’s online protection system is to create a safe cyber environment and counter online child exploitation. Similar schemes and legal safeguards have been introduced in other countries.

The scheme is in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Iran Cyber Police. Its pilot phase has already been launched in several schools in Tehran.

It will be launched nationwide in the coming months and will include training classes for students and ‘safeguarding children online’ courses for parents and teachers.

Online Identification System

All Internet users – mobile or ADSL subscribers – can be identified via their IP address. IP address is a unique string of numbers that identifies each computer or smartphone connecting to the Internet.

The ministry’s Online Identification System—officially named Shahkar (masterpiece)—monitors the IP address of data senders and recipients.

Shahkar aims to create an official link between users’ Internet identities and their real life identities; in other words officials could potentially gain access to users’ registered national identification numbers just by using their IP addresses. The scheme is meant to facilitate online law enforcement and reduce cybercrime.

The officials have claimed that the system will not breach the privacy of users.

NIN 50% Cheaper Than Internet

Telecoms Minister Mahmoud Vaezi was present at the event. “The Telco Ministry will send a directive to all Internet service providers indicating that subscribers are to be charged 50% less for using the National Information Network compared to the Internet,” he said.

The minister was accompanied by the Head of Information Technology Organization of Iran, Nasrollah Jahangard.

Jahangard said “the launch of the second phase of NIN will cut bandwidth prices for connecting to the network to one tenth its current price, but only for Internet service providers.”

Mobile Registry Scheme

In a renewed bid to counter the smuggling of cell phones into Iran, the Telecoms Ministry and the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration last July called for all mobile phones to be registered with the telecommunications user database. The ministry warned that unregistered phones will become unusable if not registered with the database.

The plan is currently in its pilot phase. During the Monday event, Vaezi concurred that his ministry is in the process of procuring the hardware and software for the cell phone registry the final phase of which will be implemented by June.

New Internet Exchange Points

He also announced the upcoming launch of two new Internet exchange points by the Telecommunication Infrastructure Company of Iran (TIC).

Iran currently has five Internet exchange points in Tehran, Mashhad, Tabriz, Shiraz and Qom. For connecting to the Internet subscribers have to first connect to one of the five. With the launch of two new exchange points, Internet speed is expected to increase significantly. The new exchange points will be in Isfahan and Khuzestan.

An Internet exchange point is a physical infrastructure through which Internet service providers (ISPs) and Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) exchange Internet traffic between their networks.

In addition to the officials, Iran’s major mobile operators – Irancell, MCI and RighTel – and representatives of the private companies active in the ICT sector were present at the NIN event.

The National Information Network was initially launched last August as an alternative independent network with content that is compatible with Islamic values.

The third and seemingly final phase of the national scheme is to be launched before the end of President Hassan Rouhani’s term in August.