Al-Monitor | : “Please see this link,” Iran’s minister of information and communications technology replied on Twitter after an internet freedom activist confronted him about net neutrality. Typically, Iranian government officials would ignore such affronts on social media, but Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi engaged with a hyperlink to AT&T’s sponsored data program: His way of saying that they do it in America, too.
As Washington debated net neutrality regulation in December, Iran introduced a new internet pricing scheme. President Hassan Rouhani defended the move in an interview with state television on Nov. 28. He said, “We are trying to make cyberspace a more open environment. Instead of trying to sell more internet subscriptions, we are seeking to make the bandwidth wider and hopefully from Dec. 1, people will be offered lower internet usage prices.”
Iran offers the world’s cheapest broadband with an average cost of $5.37 per month according to a 2017 study conducted by BDRC Continental and Cable.co.uk. But Rouhani failed to mention that prices will only be offered to subscribers who access state-approved websites, as in the domestic internet. Anyone who wants access to the global web — such as censored social media websites like Facebook and Twitter — will have to pay more. Since 2016, Iranian mobile and internet service providers have been offering discounts to subscribers who limit their online access to state-approved websites. On Nov. 13, Twitter-friendly Jahromi announced that Iranians would get a 30% discount on their internet bill if they used state-approved social media networks.
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