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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.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).

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The network monitor BGPmon noted in a tweet that international traffic temporarily dropped by nearly 50 percent on January 1.

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.

Both the Iranian government and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) estimated internet penetration at approximately 60 percent in 2017.

SHOMA was defined in a 2011–16 development plan as “an IP-based internet supported by data centers that are completely undetectable and impenetrable by foreign sources and allow the creation of private, secure intranet networks.” SHOMA is meant to improve internet access while moving much of the content and websites visited by Iranian users to domestic servers, where traffic can be closely monitored and censored by the authorities.

Most improvements to internet freedom since the election of President Hassan Rouhani in 2013 relate to access and the information and communication technology (ICT) market.

The ICT Minister announced in July 2017 new plans for the country’s national information network (SHOMA) to include the development of a national wireless network and an expansion of IP backbone projects, among other plans.

In January 2017, Vaezi ordered internet service providers (ISPs) to implement a new “National Information Network Tariff” whereby certain domestic traffic is priced at a 50 percent discount.

The discount initially applied when users accessed a list of 500 websites compiled by the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA).

The nongovernmental organization Small Media noted that the list favored semiofficial and government-run news sites at the expense of other, more popular news sites.

Some ISPs also discounted access to websites that did not feature on the list.

Authorities slowed down internet connections and at times completely blocked access to servers and data outside Iran during antigovernment protests in January 2018.

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