Iran Telecommunication Market Analysis (2010)

I visited Iran in 2010 (Read my story Here). Below is a summary of my findings of the Telecom market there:


 Total Population:    74 Million

Urban Population:  60%

Young Population:  36%

GSM penetration:  60%, expected to grow up to max 80%.

Internet usage:      36%

Fixed Line Penetration:    High in urban and low in rural hilly & desert areas.

Fixed Line Operators

There is only one fixed line operator TCI (Telecommunications Company of Iran – state owned). Its switches are old PSTN based. There are plans to introduce NGN within next few years.

 MNP (Mobile Number Portability) is not introduced but may come in next 5 years plan.

 Wireless Operators:

 There are two 2G licenses held by MCCI & Iran Cell.

A 3G license for 15 million subscribers has been issued to a new entrant ‘Tamin’ for 15 years, with 2 years exclusivity (no one else can have 3G for two years at least). This ignited the market. Competition is expected to rise with the entry of 3rd operator. MCCI having the biggest customer share is very worried of losing its market share. Radio coverage is little patchy outside cities and network performance is poor till now (2010). But operators are feeling the need to upgrade their networks to retain their market share.

This has also activated the mobile network vendors. Huawei, NSN and Ericsson have been quite active. 

Three WiMax licenses are also issued in 2010.

1. MCCI (Mobile Communication Company Iran): Started in 1994, and is owned by TCI (Telecommunication Company of Iran, only fixed line state owned operator). Subscribers are 32 million with 60% market share. 60% subscribers are postpaid. Nearly all business users are with them and cannot leave because of MNP not being offered in Iran. Moving would mean losing years’ old number, which is no desirable for customers.

Core Suppliers:     Nokia 70%, Ericsson 20%, Huawei 10% (PS & little bit CS)

Radio Suppliers:    Nokia 60%, Ericsson 40%

2. MTN IranCell: Started in 2006. 15 million Subscribers with market share of 35%. 98% are Prepaid. It was the first one to offer prepaid so most prepaid subscribers joined it. There is a potential for MTN Iran in post paid area when MNP is introduced.

MTN has WiMax network which is for data only initially.

It has 2G & 2.5G (EDGE in limited areas). Data usage is low with subscribers less than 10%.

MTN Iran is planning for IMS deployment.

Core Suppliers:    Huawei 100% (ASN gateway is also provided)

Radio Suppliers:  Nokia 40%, Ericsson 30%, Huawei 30%

3. Remaining 5% mobile market share goes to 3 small regional operators.

The end of document….


TCP & UDP are two of the most important Transport Layer protocols used for error-free end to end data delivery. Understanding these and some of the relevant important concepts is vital. Below is a summary of these:

There are two main Transport Layer protocols namely TCP and UDP. Transport Layer is the 4th in OSI 7 Layer Model. Both are very important because all IP transactions use any one of these two.

TCP: Transmission Control Protocol, defined in 1974 and has many RFCs.

UDP: User Datagram Protocol, defined in 1980 in RFC 768

OSI Model with Examples of Protocols & Devices - Click to Enlarge

There are three important binary properties that serve as the basis for the classification of transport layer protocols:

1. Connection-oriented vs. Connectionless

2. Stateful vs. Stateless

3. Reliable vs. Unreliable

Let’s review these briefly. The first & most important distinction between transport layer protocols is Connection-oriented vs. Connectionless:

 1-       Connection-Oriented Protocols: With connection-oriented protocols, one must establish a logical connection with the communication partner before exchanging data. This method of connection:

  • is highly reliable (because of acknowledgement for each packet exchange)
  • Requires more computational processing
  • Has more overhead because of connection establishment and termination
  • It is recommended where accuracy is important e.g. data transfer where a single wrong or missing bit would corrupt the entire file.

 Connectionless Protocols:  With connectionless protocols, establishing a connection before sending data is not necessary. It uses self-contained messages that:

  • Include the full message
  • Do not require any response or acknowledgement
  • Has lower overhead because it has no connection and no setup requirements.
  • Has no built-in reliability features, and therefore is best suited for use in highly reliable networks or when application itself can retransmit packets based on some other criteria (timeout, etc), or retransmit/acknowledgement is not required, e.g. Voice where retransmitting a missing or wrong part is useless.

 2-       Stateful vs. Stateless Protocols:

  • A stateless protocol is one that does not maintain a relationship between requests. Each request is un-related to any previous requests. (An example of a stateless protocol is HTTP. Neither the client nor the server system has an obligation to keep track of the state of the communication session. A stateless protocol does not support most reliability features; and data that were sent can be lost or delivered out-of-sequence. The main advantages are lower overhead and a degree of isolation between the client and the server. Connectionless protocols are typically stateless.
  • Stateful Protocols A stateful protocol is a protocol in which part of the data that is exchanged between the client and the server systems includes state information. Both systems keep track of the state of the communication session.

3-       Reliable vs Unreliable:

  • Reliable Protocols A reliable protocol requires that each transmission is acknowledged by the receiving host. The sender retransmits, if necessary.
  • Unreliable Protocols. An unreliable protocol does not require that each transmission is acknowledged by the receiving host.

TCP Window: TCP uses a data flow control concept called Window. It is the size of data that receiver is willing to accept in one TCP data frame or transaction. This window size keeps changing during the session.

 Based on the above classification, UDP and TCP looks like complete opposites:

  • UDP is connectionless, StateLess and Unreliable
  • TCP is connection-oriented, StateFul and Reliable


UDP & TCP were primarily designed for data. But popularity of carrying Voice over IP networks forced engineers to design a new transport layer protocol called SCTP (Stream Control Transmission Protocol).

Read How & Why SCTP and Issues with it Here.

credit crunch vs monkey crunch

If you find it difficult to understand the current world financial crisis, the following should help…

Once upon a time in a village in India, a man announced to the villagers that he would buy monkeys for $10 each.
The villagers seeing there were many monkeys around, went out to the forest and started catching them.
The man bought thousands of monkeys at $10, but, as the supply started to diminish, the villagers stopped their efforts. The man further announced that he would now buy at $20 a piece. This renewed the efforts of the villagers and they started catching monkeys again.
Soon the supply diminished even further and people started going back to their farms. The offer rate increased to $25 and the supply of monkeys became so little that it was really an effort to even see a monkey, let alone catch it!
The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at $50! However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant would now act as buyer, on his behalf.
In the absence of the man, the assistant told the villagers: ‘ Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that the man has collected. I will sell them to you at $35 and when he returns from the city, you can sell them back to him for $50. ‘
The villagers squeezed together their savings and bought all the monkeys.

Then they never saw the man or his assistant again, only monkeys everywhere!  

 Welcome to WALL STREET!

Sydney Sheldon

Life is like a Novel

Sydney Sheldon is the most famous dramatic/suspense novel writer of 20th century. He is also film, TV & stage show/drama writer and winner of an Oscar. Sydney’s own life was a pure drama, pooerst at one stage & Billionaire at another. Sydney wrote his first novel at the age of 53 when people start planning for retirement. It was a big flop, he didn’t give up, wrote another which turned out to be a great success. He considered life as a Novel, you never know what happens next until you turn the next page. Never Stop, never quit, was his message. Read a snapshot from his interesting autobiography:

The crowded hotel hall was full book lovers. A famous New York publisher had invited three writers to sign their new books for buyers. There were long queues in front of two authors but the third one was sitting alone. Not even a single buyer for him. It was quite embarrassing and humiliating for him. Hours passed but no one turned up to him. “May I take your autograph please!” an old leady approached him softly. Jumping out of his chair eagerly, he took the book, wrote a nice sentence & signed it. “So what did you like in my novel?” he enquired excitedly.  The lady smiled tenderly & responded, “Son you were sitting alone, I felt sympathetic and hence bought your book.”

With broken heart, he returned to his hotel and kept awake all night. After hours of deliberation he decided to give up on novel writing. It is not me; I should stick to my previous activities of TV & stage drama writing, he concluded. Feeling calm now, he turned to his bed. Looking out of the window he noticed sunlight slowly taking away darkness. Suddenly it reminded him of his own writing “every dark night has to finish & bright day has to arrive, instead of frightening from the dark, just think it is only few moments before the Morning!”  He left the bed instantly and started writing his next novel.

Disappointed from his first novel, it was Sydney Sheldon, the most famous fiction/suspense navel writer of 20th century. He wrote 17 novels, which are sold in access of 370 million and translated into 51 languages. He was born in 1917 in USA and passed away in 2007. Sydney’s life was full of drama. At the age of 17 he decided to end his life due to bad financial situation. He was about to swallow sleeping pills when his father arrived.  He counselled Sydney wisely that I do not intend to stop you from suicide. I will only say that:

“You don’t know what can happen tomorrow. Life is like a novel. It’s filled with suspense. You never know what’s going to happen until you turn the page. I am sorry to hear that you want to suicide. By this you will only miss on the opportunities & excitements that are due to follow in the next chapter. Remember, you can decide to close this book [of life] anytime but once closed this book can never be opened again.”

This sentence changed Sydney’s life forever. He decided to labour hard from that day onward and never give up. Sydney worked as factory worker, shoe salesman, radio announcer & hawker. Though he could not succeed much, Sydney didn’t stop. He came to New York to work on radio & TV. Slowly moving into film-writing, he wrote many mediocre films. Then his film “The Bachelor & the Bobby-Soxer” released in 1947 turned out to be box office hit, earning him the top-most award of Oscar in script writing! He became famous. Sydney was offered to write & direct a movie “Dream Wife” for the renowned MGM Studios. The producer was the head of MGM himself. Unfortunately, the film got negative publicity from some of the press. As a result MGM’s head released the movie as a low profile to save his name. Sydney resigned in protest. He remained out of work for many months. He ran low on money, so much so that he once had to borrow $50 from his own servant. Again, his next movie blasted the box office again, rocketing to the top!

Same ups & downs followed Sydney in stage dramas also. He made a low budget drama at New York Broadway Theatre which ran for many months. Yet, his next musical drama, the most expensive opera in New York’s history, flopped that it didn’t last for a week.

By 1970, Sydney was 53 years old. He had written successful stage dramas, won Oscar and was watched on TV by millions across USA. There was yet another dramatic chapter due to begin in his life.  He decided to write a novel. Five publishers rejected his novel. At last one accepted it for only $1000. On opening ceremony he sat in the hall along other two writers to sell their books. Not even a single person bought Sydney’s book except that old lady who did so out of mercy. Did Sydney give up? No, he wrote yet another novel “The Other Side of Midnight”. It was a big hit and sold in millions.   He became millionaire? No, Billionaire actually! Sydney kept on writing novels for the next 27 years, only to become the most famous suspense writer. In his own words:

“Life is like a lift, it goes up & down. If you are in crisis, assume you are at the bottom, but be sure it will go up. The secret of success is that Never Quit the lift!”.

On another occasion Sydney wrote:

Don’t give up. There are too many nay-sayers out there who will try to discourage you. Don’t listen to them. The only one who can make you give up is yourself.”

So friends, choice is yours, quit, or Stand-up for yourself.

“You have two choices. You can keep running & hiding and blaming the world for your problems, or you can Stand Up for Yourself and decide to be Somebody important.”

The End..

Enjoying Egyptian Food


Read Cairo Visit Part 1 Here

Enjoying BBQ at River Nile

Egypt has an ample variety of food and there are a lot of street restaurants to enjoy from.

Frying Fish:

Excellent Fish Restaurant

I was strolling through the streets of Cairo downtown looking for a local food shop to have lunch. There were plenty of them but I was looking for a bit traditional one. Walking down the street I eventually settled on one. It was good. I finished the food and walked away (only after paying of course!). Same old scenario repeated itself. You search for long for something good, you make a choice and then the very moment something better appears, only to leave you regretting, damn why didn’t I wait a bit more. Walked just few steps down the road & I smelled fish roasting nearby. There was a fresh fish shop where they were BBQing the fish. You choose the raw piece and they will grill it then & there.

Al Tahrir Kushari:

Enjoying Kushari at "Kushari al Tahrir" with friends

My Egyptian friend invited me to try the traditional Egyptian food Kushaari at the most famous shop “Kushari al Tahrir”. This food is made of pasta, noodles, beans, lentils, rice &roasted onions.  All mixed in a bowl & boiling spicy tomato sauce poured on top. There were two bottles on the table, one with vinegar and the other one with a mixture of chillies, oil and spices. Resting on table the bottle contents will settle into layers, I counted five. You are supposed to put your thumb on the open bottle head and shake it before use. My friend poured a lot of both into my plate, “you are Pakistani, you can manage”. Only I, internal organs & Allah knows how I managed. But it was delicious! We cooled ourselves with kheer (rice & milk pudding). Middle East has only few vegetarian dishes to offer, and this is one of them. I went back to the same shop again but without him, I was scared of chillies!

Beans & Lentils by Pharoahs and Meat by Muslims:

Egyptians diet contains a lot meat and beans (soya, lentil, chickpeas, etc). In fact there are many beans dishes. Egyptians used beans for 1000’s of years as their main source of protein, until Muslims introduced them to meat! Now my Egyptian friend was complaining why we Pakistani don’t eat more meat even though it quite cheap in Pakistan (compared to Egypt).


I found the Egyptian Doner Kebab (Shawrma) the best ever, especially the beef one. Usually shawarma is made with minced meat. But Egyptians make it with layers of meat, similar to chicken shawarma. The meat is thinly sliced from the cone as it cooks, then slow cooked in the tray with juices and raw tomatoes. It is then stuffed in a pitta or soft bun and served with turshi (vinegar pickle). I have never tasted better shawarma than this.

Turshi is commonly eaten in Middle East. This is more so for Jordanians and Egyptians. It basically is a pickle of carrots, mooli, cucumber and chillies in vinegar; quite tasty & sour.  Men eating so much of sour food was a bit of strange for me as it is associated with women in subcontinent culture!

Fresh Jiuce:

Juice Corner - A Common Sight

There were shops of fresh juice of carrot, orange and sugar cane on every street & and every corner. The juice was cheap & refreshing in hot weather. I enjoyed my favourite carrot & orange mix.

Ta’amiyya is the Eqyptian version of Falafel, but made with fava beans. It is ground fava beans mixed with spices and then fried. It is then put into a pita with some salad and tahina sauce. Sometimes potato chips are thrown in to. It is quire heavy food.

Foul is the cheapest of cheap foods. It comes in different forms, but it is essentially beans cooked, then mashed up into a paste and mixed with various oils and spices, then put into a pita.

 Eeish Baladi:

Eeish Baladi on Sale

This delicious round Roti/chapatti bread ‘Eeish Baladi’ is sold everywhere in Cairo.  You will see sellers sitting on floor with breads spread on a low cart.


Hot Eeish Bread, Baklawa & Tea - Too Delicious!

Three types of milk pudding are commonly served after food, flour& rice (kheer), and bread (Umm Ali). All were tasty but less sweet compared to Turkish ones. Baklawa was also available but less frequently.

Qahva, Chai & Sheesha:

Qahva House

Needles to say that Egyptians love qahva, chai (tea) and sheesha.

Read My Visit to Cairo in Ramadhan Here

The End.