Internet In Iran?

Internet as a viable communication and advertising medium remains to be a doubtful venture in the minds of many of Iranian business community.  Many of us still remember the time where typewriters and fax machines were banned in Iran.  Free flow of information has always been an issue with the past and present establishments in Iran.  Internet provides just that, free flow of information.  It was not long ago when the establishment gave in to fax machines and computers.  It was not a surprise to the Iranian Internet community when the government gave in to the overwhelming momentum of Internet and made it more accessible.  For many of those who opposed Internet, the question still remains.  Is Internet a passing hoax or is it a reality that one way or another will become part of our lives?   There are also those who legitimately question the merits of the Internet and its use as an effective tool in routine business and personal dealings.   What is the truth? 

 Internet Usage In Iran  

Most of us have no clear understanding of Internet or its possible social impact in Iran.  Due to technical and regulatory reasons the total impact of Internet will not be felt in Iran for sometimes.    Lack of high speed connection to the Internet backbone from Iran and the absence of the needed infrastructure within the country makes it impractical for any large scale Internet presence hosted from Iran. Email and limited Internet browsing seem to be the primary Internet activities in Iran.  Internet Service Providers (ISP) in Iran seem to be focusing on offering just these limited services.  Today you can have an email account and limited Internet access from your home in Iran.   More and more people are joining existing services ISPs inside Iran offer.  However, high cost of subscription has dampened the demand.    

One Possible Scenario 

Internet cost can only be decreased if the government or large corporations can invest in the development and establishment of the needed infrastructure.  This may consist of a high speed, open architecture, fiber optic network that extends to major cities in Iran with switching stations and routers that can provide redundant links between host servers.  There should also be a high-speed fiber optic connection between this network and Internet.  Furthermore the network should be easily accessible from both Internet Access Providers (IAP) as well as  ISPs.  This will insure timely return on initial investment.

Business Community 

Currently businesses in Iran that see the need for Internet presence prefer to host their sites outside Iran to bypass the existing limitations caused by the current situation. North American ISPs who offer .com , .net and .org domain registrations are the most popular presently.  The Iranian businesses have recognized Internet is not an effective advertising media inside Iran.  However, it is the only advertising vehicle that they can freely utilize and afford outside Iran.   This becomes more important as the need to export the Iranian made goods and products increases.

Finding an established Internet Service Provider who can host and promote such sites is an important factor.  Currently there is only a handful of ISPs who have been set up to meet the needs of these groups of businesses.  Iran Online and its sponsoring company,  Manou & associates Inc. are included in this group.

The Ultimate Solution 

In the next few years, concerns related to Internet access or speed will be solved by companies who are developing satellite based communication systems.  Companies like Motorola, Microsoft and others are working to develop and deploy network of satellites that provide global coverage for audio, video, data and Internet.  This will make it possible for anybody, anywhere in the world to access Internet via a radio frequency link.  This will remove most of the bottlenecks that are placed because of local restrictions and limitations.  However, implementation of this plan requires both solving of the technical problems and overcoming the concerns and issues raised by various local governments.  The latter is especially difficult, since these companies have to obtain the exclusive rights to specific radio frequencies from different governments.


Many of the people who are faced with these questions have had to endure the transition pain from abacus to calculators and computers.   Some of them had to give up the security of handing their hard-earned money to a bank teller in exchange of a hand written receipts to a cold ATM machine.   Many had to simplify and organize their way of thinking and doing business to make it possible to conform to the predefined columns and rows of their computerized accounting software and forms.  It is true each time we are faced with a technological breakthrough, some people will not be able to keep up with the changes and will be left behind.  We have seen this over and over again.  Indubitably, the same thing is taking place with the growing popularity of the Internet.  The hope is that the speed and the momentum of Internet be so high that it will sweep most people and carry them forward to the next technological Plato.


Iran Online
California, USA 
November 1998