The long-awaited mobile services from Tamin Telecom, Iran’s third mobile operator will be launched in February 2012.

Launched under the brand name Rightel, it will be the first third-generation (3G) mobile network in the country. The commercial launch will initially begin in Tehran and Karach.

Tamin Telecom aims to cover 60 per cent of the population with its 2G network and 40 per cent with its 3G network by 2014.

The operator, which is an affiliate of the Social Security Investment Company of Iran, originally secured the licence with the UAE’s Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) back in January 2009. But the Iranian government cancelled the licence after both parties failed to decide on the size of Etisalat’s stake.  

Tamin Telecom regained the licence in October 2009 paying $401m for the licence with two years’ of 3G exclusivity and a 23.6 per cent revenue share with the government.  

Since the launch has been delayed due to a funding gap and a change in the board of directors, they will only enjoy one and half year’s worth of exclusivity before the other two operators also begin to launch their 3G services.

“The 3G exclusivity will end in June 2013 and the other two mobile operators have plans to deploy 3G networks,” says Farhad Tavakkol-Hamedani, analyst at Iranian consultancy Teyf Group.

State-owned operator Mobile Communication Company of Iran (MCI) is working with Chinese vendor Huawei to deploy the new networks and South Africa’s MTN Irancell is also preparing to upgrade its networks to 3G.