After news stories in mid-February indicated that preparations for 5G spectrum auctions and eventual rollout could begin in Iran before the end of March, there have been reports in local news media of spectrum issues.
Earlier this year, Iran’s telecommunications minister was reported as saying that the country will start work on 5G in late March, and that the country might be able to offer implementation – and services – as early as next year.
At the moment 4G covers most cities, towns and villages across the country. With nearly 70 million people enjoying access to broadband services offered by three mobile operators, coverage is now way ahead of the 300,000 or so mobile broadband subscribers in 2013.
However, internet use has not always been supported by the government, which has been trying to get end users to access a state-controlled national intranet service and has in the past throttled internet connectivity to reduce speeds.
While the country is apparently now keen to begin the 5G auction and launch process, there appears to be a problem with 5G spectrum availability. Media reports indicate that Iran’s state-run TV broadcaster, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, which has permits for 5G-capable 700MHz and 800MHz frequencies which are not being used, is unwilling to release spectrum for future 5G services.
This situation has apparently now been rumbling on for about three years, undermining the chances of imminent spectrum auctions – let alone a 2021 5G launch.