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The development of SHOMA and the state’s control over the internet backbone provides the government with the ability to throttle foreign connection speeds during politically sensitive periods without crippling critical services.
found that “although the incident only lasted for 12 minutes, the timing of the event does suggest that traffic was being intentionally throttled, and that the state has the capacity to limit international traffic as it chooses.” In addition, the heavy influence of the Telecommunications Company of Iran (TCI) in the ISP market grants the security apparatus the ability to control third-party ISPs and monitor online activities, since TCI’s majority shareholder is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an important branch of the security forces that also controls large portions of the economy.
As of May 2017, most providers of fixed-line internet service had reportedly implemented the discount, although only one mobile provider had done so.
In December 2017, Iran’s new ICT minister, Mohammad-Javad Azari Jahromi, announced that the 50 percent discount would be extended to all domestic websites, not just those on the previously selected list.
Another welcome consequence of investment in ICT infrastructure through SHOMA is the expansion of internet connectivity to rural areas.
The ICT Ministry reported that over 27,000 villages were connected to high-speed internet during the first four years of the Rouhani administration.
In July 2017, then ICT minister Mahmoud Vaezi—who later became the president’s chief of staff—unveiled plans for the next phase of SHOMA at an event in the Tehran offices of the Mobile Telecommunication Company of Iran (MCI).