Iran is the third country in terms of engineers nurture and has the highest number of graduate engineers after US and Russia, nonetheless Iranian engineers could not be able to create appropriate and right businesses in IT and ICT fields that meet nation needs due to lack of efficient and effective communications and interactions with other countries and this problem is the biggest challenge which prevent progression at the present.
Share of Iran revenues from electronic commerce is currently insignificant and although this country has reached to a desirable level in terms of infrastructure investments in ICT in current situation, but what is very important is middle and macro management in ICT development process and optimal use of capabilities in order to achieve prosperity. IT is one of the most quick-start industries that create jobs in the short time and for this reason, IT industry and its development should be emphasized more than ever. Iran IT industry rank was 104 and 101 in 2012 and 2013 respectively and the country was ranked 119th, 94th, 61th and 32th in the industry in terms of technology uptake level by companies, educational systems quality, creation and development of e-government and math and knowledge quality in 2013 respectively.
Products in information and communication technology field include all products in the field except softwares and Iran was ranked 12th among 13 countries of the Middle East region in terms of export of these products and also was ranked 10th among 17 countries of the region in terms of infrastructure and online indicators in 2015 so that value of export of these products forms only 0.035 percent of Iran total export products, Iran’s inappropriate position in this context stems from substantial share of oil and related derivatives in export products basket.
Iran non-oil exports value was $ 43 billion in 2015 that share of IT products and services exports must be about $ 650 million according to predetermined forecasts. Planning for IT export has done since 2008 in Iran and 2 percent of GDP ( about $ 10 billion ) must be yielded from IT export and industry accordingly.
World Economic Forum survey and report from 127 different countries focused on network readiness more in 2016 given that internet and its accessibility is considered as the fastest and most extensive communication tool in the world and one of the most important factors in development and progression in any country.
World Economic Forum has determined some indicators which evaluate many countries based on them annually, indicators such as network readiness, market space, political and regulatory infrastructure and ICT rate of usage in individual, commercial and governmental levels. First 10 countries in ranking in terms of network readiness indicator in 2016 are : Denmark ( 78.5 ), Sweden ( 72.5 ), Swiss ( 53.5 ), USA ( 49.5 ), Singapore ( 49.5 ), Finland ( 47.5 ), Netherlands ( 44.5 ), Island ( 44.5 ), South Korea ( 43.5 ) and Norway ( 38.5 ) and the ranks of some Iran neighboring countries are : Qatar ( 32 ), Bahrain ( 45 ), Saudi Arabia ( 48 ), Kuwait ( 52 ), Oman ( 53 ), Turkey ( 55 ), Azerbaijan ( 67 ) and Kazakhstan ( 71 ), but Iran has not been listed in the report at all.
ICT related industries can be divided into 4 sections in Iran : hardware and computer equipment, software and services, telecom equipment manufacturing industries and telecom services.
Hardware and computer equipment is one of the most thriving sections with a 25 percent annually growth rate and a part of required computer equipment are produced with serious government support in Iran, It is remarkable that the biggest costomer in this section is governmental and private organizations in order of importance and purchase volume of households is incrementing rapidly.
Software and services section has a growth about 40 percent annually in Iran. Most domestic companies in this section directly embark to sell their own software products in Iran, a few foreign companies are active in this section and their activities span in banking and large commercial business units ones. Government has provided supportive, varied and wide-spreading plans and programs for software industry such as unauthorized reproduction prohibition, support of producing new products or upgrading existing products, extensive tax exemptions for content and software producers and granting low-interest loans. Total volume of Iran software market from GDP is 0.18 percent in 2016 that is really very inconsiderable. Founding “Sanaray Software Export Research and Development” company in order to facilitate to export software goods and services by some domestic software companies and serious government support in Iran is among positive actions that has accomplished in recent years.
Iran government has heavily invested in telecom section and has supplied needed equipment and requirements from domestic resources as much as possible that has resulted in quantitative and qualitative growth and improvements of telecom equipment manufacturing companies. Global movement to deregulation and privatization has caused this movement seriously pursue in Iran rapidly and privatization of Telecommunication Company of Iran is one of these actions, this company has become to a huge and valuable marketplace for international telecom companies. Nowadays, there are 7 landline phone operators and 3 mobile phone operators in Iran and number of landline phone and mobile phone subscribers have grown exponentially and significantly in recent years, some of telecom equipment which are produced by domestic companies include : telecom switch, copper cable, optic fiber, transfer equipment, antenna and radio, power supply, modem and … .
Industry, mine and trade ministry has designed diverse and progressive plans for IT industry as a leading and strategic one in Iran including design and implementation of data national network and internet penetration rate increase via development of simple and inexpensive public access . Total internet users and internet penetration rate were over 45 million and 59.5 percent respectively in 2013 in Iran.
Iran considers providing services electronically as much as possible according to its development plan and outsources services as possible and will upgrade its online services rank based on this policy in the near future in a way that will reach to second position in some indicators in Middle East region in 2017 accordingly.
Final price of ICT services is very high in Iran, for example final price of a 155 Mb internet line is currently about $ 300 to 400 internationally while its sale price is about $ 8000 in Iran and data transfer cost per every kilometer is about $ 0.15 out of Iran whereas this cost is 88 times more expensive in Iran, also internet bandwidth final price is 25 times more expensive than initial price. Minimum internet speed is 1 Mb/s in the world and this speed is yet 128Kb/s in Iran that must be omitted soon.
Purchased capacity of international internet gateway is very low especially compared to neighboring countries in Iran and there is a large gap between bandwidth supply and demand that stems from growing demand and failure to provide required capacity, meanwhile private sector has taken over bandwidth provision and distribution, the sector which has efficient and effective role and attendance in ICT businesses in Iran marketplace generally.
Official language in Iran is persian and almost all content is produced in persian, amount of content production in english is very inconsiderable and this issue is one of the reasons which other nations less inform about Iran and its related events and facts. Most content is produced and supplied in the following areas in Iran : religious, educational and tourism affairs.
The first softwares that exported from Iran were among religious ones. Large volume of content is produced in religious area and this market is a huge one in Iran, although this content is also supplied in arabic and less english languages in addition to persian language. Iran's young population and strong interest of government, family and people in education has made education one of the largest items of household expenditure basket, education marketplace is very profitable in all fields.
Suitable market has caused a lot of companies are involved in the production of educational content in Iran and limited number of Internet users has caused most companies to provide educational content in the form of CD/DVD. Of course, public interest in e-learning has gradually led to the placement of content on the internet and main areas in which the content is generated relate to training IT skills, education courses in schools and preparing for universities entrance exams.
Iran enjoys thousands of years of rich history and culture and this richness has caused content generation in relation to the history and geography of Iran has prospered well.