A Discourse on Planning an Appropriate Networking Infrastructure for Iran


Let me first note that because the main products of a post-industrial society are knowledge products, their transportation is done by network connections rather than physical connections of the Industrial Age, namely highways, railways, or airways.  Worldwide networking infrastructure is what has been coined as Information Highways in popular culture.  The first of which being the Internet itself.


For example, Microsoft produces a substantial set of products that are sold in the world markets. Their products are programs such as MS Word.  To transport such products, one does not have to move any physical entity and only the movement of information is needed to transport these kinds of products from the producer to the consumer.


With the increase of the above types of products in the world production, the need for powerful networking infrastructures is rapidly increasing.  Of course, beside the need for movement of data, the co-production of products in multiple sites, not only requires the networking technologies for transporting data, but it also requires the ability of multimedia real-time networking. 


The above is the main reason for the growth of new networking technologies such as the Asynchronous Transfer Mode  (ATM), not to be mistaken by the ATM cash machines.  ATM is very appropriate for sophisticated real-time networking of multimedia content.


Of course, the networking applications such as the World Wide Web are used by individuals for recreation as well.   The same way that highways are used  by travelers for  sightseeing and fun.  But the main reason for the growth of highways during the industrial age, and the growth of the information highways in the Post-Industrial Age, is related to the type of products that are produced in each of these economies and the respective transportation needs for these products.


Recently for my work I had to manage two remote sites, one in Bangalore, India and one in Singapore. Let me first give a background about India in software development, and Taiwan and Singapore in hardware development.


As you may know, India has progressed a lot in software technology and many firms in the West, pass lot of their Software coding work to India (the same way a lot of hardware work is done in Taiwan).


Nowadays it is not just the cost advantage of India and Taiwan, which is still true, but also the expertise that India (in software) and Taiwan (in hardware) have developed, which is not as readily available in the U.S.  This knowledge and expertise makes it sensible for the Western firms to go through the whole trouble of doing remote engineering or support.   In fact, India's networking software development firms, such as Wipro, are as up-to-date and have as advanced processes, as any software firms in the United States.


What I noticed, when comparing working with Singapore and India, was that Singapore has a very efficient networking infrastructure.  For example, you can easily get an inexpensive Frame Relay drop in Singapore.  This is a switching technology when you pay by calls rather than paying for a whole leased line whether using it or not.  But in India, you have to get a leased 64k link which is very expensive.  Of course, you can instead use slow Internet connections in India, but they are inefficient and insecure.  Even Israel does not have much of a good infrastructure and their connection to the Internet is a slow link.


This experience has shown me that in today’s world economy, if any country wants to really grab part of the high-tech business, they should do what Singapore has done, namely to create a very powerful networking infrastructure.


In Iran, I have seen the telephone company has created all kinds of services such as call forwarding, call waiting, etc., which is great.  But to create a powerful infrastructure that can make doing remote engineering and commerce possible in Iran, I think big networking pipes are needed and that requires a powerful national networking backbone.


Recently, AT&T, finished another transoceanic fiber to Tokyo.  These are not something that any individual country needs to worry about, but I think inside individual countries the story is different.


For example, inside Iran, if a project the size of the highway projects of the time of Reza Shah or even better, the highway projects the size of what U.S. did in 1950s, get started, then Iran can really get a lot of benefit from it.


What I think is needed is making FIBER OPTICS COMMUNICATION LINES connecting all the major regions of Iran to the Persian Gulf major ports and to the Caspian Sea ports and that should be the way to create a strong telecom infrastructure.  I think this can help Iran to capture a big chunk of the Central Asia and Persian Gulf computer and networking and other high-tech businesses. 


I heard that Fiber Optics production has already started in Iran using the internal resources (mines, etc.).  I do not know if a project like what I am describing is under plan or not, but it seems to me this is as important as building highways at the time of Reza Shah, if a nation wants to be competitive in the world in the next decade. 


I believe the Fiber Optics Communication infrastructure is the required infrastructure of the future.  Relying on wireless satellites is not wise, not only because of the current problems of latency in satellite communications, and the current limitations of satellite devices for two-way communication, but also because it can get more expensive for relative short distances within the national boundaries as compared with a ground infrastructure, even if technologies like geodesics are used for satellite communications.


Although technologies like ADSL allow one to use copper for some high speed networking for branches, but definitely Fiber Optics is the solution for a national networking backbone, and technologies like two-way cable modem and ATM are at their best when end-to-end fiber connections and two-way repeaters are available.


It is strange that all the wireless works are being sold to the third world countries but in the U.S., the major communication companies know very well how important wire (now fiber) is, but they do not want to make such investments outside U.S., where they do not feel their investment to be secure.  But in the U.S, all of them, SPRINT, AT&T, and MCI, are upgrading the national telecom infrastructure of the USA with the Fiber Optics.



Sam Ghandchi

February 24, 1998







* The above article was first published in the Ayandeh-Negar Magazine Issue #2 in the first quarter of 1998






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