I ran's top Internet service provider and three local mobile operators have started offering free Wi-Fi services in Tehran and other major cities.
According to the Telecoms Ministry's website, Local ISP Asia Tech, Mobile Company of Iran, MTN-Irancell, and Rightel have launched 66 public WiFi access points in different hotspots that will be expanded in the near future.
MCI, Irancell, and Rightel are the three biggest mobile operators in the country, all of which offer fourth-generation mobile Internet services. Asia Tech is a privately-owned ISP. The company was voted the best ISP in Tehran in 2016.
A public WiFi access point is a physical location where people may obtain Internet access, via a wireless local area network (WLAN) using a router connected to an internet service provider. Through the service, users will have access to the Internet for a limited time and bandwidth. Operators and ISPs set up such access points to promote their services and increase profits.
The move comes in the wake of a call by Telecoms Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi to communication companies to provide public Wi-Fi services in populated areas such as airports, stadiums, and commercial centers.
"This can be a good advertisement for the providers and will help them increase revenues," he said.
According to Jahromi, public Wi-Fi could decrease the traffic of mobile Internet routes leading to higher quality access for users.
However, how secure is a connection to a public WiFi network is debatable. When connecting to a network, the user’s device and all its traffic are exposed to every other user of that network. This can be risky, especially in case the user has not installed a Firewall on the device and does not encrypt communications.
MCI has installed 16 antennas in populated areas in Tehran, namely Imam Khomeini International Airport, several malls like Aladdin Mobile Phone Mall which is a cell phone hub and in some hospitals. The company has also put three access points in the holy city of Mashhad and allocated four others in the cities of Shalamcheh, Mehran, Khosravi and Chazzabeh bordering Iraq.
Asia Tech has the major share with 36 hotspots in several cities including Tehran, Mashhad, Shiraz, and Yazd.
Rightel and Irancell, however, have so far installed fewer antennas on the Iraqi border regions and are to be activated in the next few days.
Access in the border regions are aimed to facilitate Internet access for Iranian pilgrims visiting the neighboring country to attend the annual Arbaeen (on Nov. 9) mourning ceremonies in the shrine city of Karbala.
Arbaeen is the 40th day that marks the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third imam of Shiite Muslims, his family members and close aides in 680 AD in the desert in central Iraq that is home to his mausoleum. It is the main pilgrimage site of Shiites and is visited by millions of Muslims throughout the year.