A Brief History of the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology
Prior to 1876, the telegraph office was part of the Ministry of Science and the post office was part of the Ministry of Duties and Consultations.
On 12 March 1877, Ali-Gholi Khan Hedayat, with the honorary title of Mokhberodowleh, was appointed as Iran’s first Minister of Telegraphs on the orders of Nasser-e-Din Shah Qajar and the Ministry of Telecommunications was effectively established.
In 1880, the administrative structure of Iran underwent changes, in particular in the Ministry of Posts and Chaparkhaneh, and Mirza Ali Khan Aminodowleh was appointed as the first Minister of Post.
In 1904, the first telephone concession was granted to Basirolmamalek and so telephone lines also began working in Tehran.
As the duties of the Ministry of Telegraphs and the Ministry of Posts were similar, the two were merged to form the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs which began work in 1908.
In 1929, following a proposal to the parliament, the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs bought the shares of the telephone company and formed the Ministry of Posts, Telegraphs and Telephones. Mirza Ghasem Khan Souresrafil was appointed as its first minister.
As information technology was added to this sector, and given the speed at which new technologies were on the rise, the Ministry of Posts, Telegraphs and Telephones was renamed the Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology in 2004, following ratification by the Islamic Consultative Assembly, to better represent the new duties of the ministry.
Ali-Gholi Khan Mokhberodowleh as the first appointed minister
Ali-Gholi Khan Mokhberodowleh was born in Shiraz in 1830. He was the eldest son of Reza-Gholi Khan who was given the honorary title of Amiroshoara, alias Hedayat, and aka Allahbashi.
In 1858, Mokhberodowleh established the first telegraph line in Iran. In 1859, he was appointed as the head of all telegraph offices in Iran and second deputy to the Minister of Science. The honorary title of Mokhberodowleh was given to him in 1869.
He was one of Nasser-e-Din Shah’s retinues on his first trip to Europe. He also took his son, Morteza-Gholi Khan Saniodowleh, on this trip so that he could continue his studies in Europe.
In 1876, Ali-Gholi Khan, who was now known as the brigadier general of the telegraph house, was temporarily placed in charge of its affairs as acting head. This was later changed to a contractual agreement.
In 1881, after the demise of Ali-Gholi Mirza Etezadosaltaneh, who was the Minister of Science and Head of Dar Alfonoun School, his position was given to Mokhberodowleh who now became both the Minister of Telegraphs and the Minister of Science. Thus, the family remained in charge of running the two ministries for many years to come.
The junction of Sa’di and Jomhuri streets in Tehran, an area where his family had roots and lived for long years, has been named Mokhberodowleh after him.
The telegraph concession under Mozaffar-e-Din Shah Qajar
1. In 1901, the concession for a telegraph network with three lines between Tehran and the limits of Baluchistan was granted to the English.
2. The said network linked Tehran to the Indian border via Kashan, Yazd, and Kerman.
3. One of the conditions of the concession agreement was that the British government, who was the concession holder, had to buy all the required telegraph poles, wires, etc, at a fair price and be refunded by the Iranian government plus transport costs, without charging interest.
4. The new telegraph lines would be the property of the Iranian government, but the monopoly for sending telegraphs abroad would be given to the Indo-European Telegraph Office, who would also receive the revenues.
5. The British government would oversee the use of the said lines and its revenues. It would pay around 4% of the costs of construction and materials to the Iranian government annually. Under the rule of Nasser-e-Din Shah, England had already received the concession for the main telegraph lines in southern Iran and had the submarine cable monopoly to connect its naval bases in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman. By receiving the new concession, it completed its communications network between the intended areas in southeastern Iran, the British Baluchistan (present-day Pakistan), and India. Shortly after, it added another line to the existing ones, between Tehran and Kashan, at the expense of the Iranian government.
6. The above concession date was to expire on 27 November 1924. But if the Iranian government had not paid its debts for building the telegraph network to England by this date, the concession would remain in force.
A history of the postal service
Iranians were the first people to establish a regular postal service under Achaemenid rule on communication hills called “Chaparkhaneh”, dating back to 3000 years ago. These were organized to take care of all the communication needs of the empire.
The chaparkhaneh posts were the most sensitive and best-known administrative organization of the Achaemenids. Groups of agile riders on fast horses traveled long distances to keep constant lines of communication open throughout the territories with the central government. They took the news and reports from all four corners of the territories to the center, and from the center to the farthest outposts.
Darius the Great of the Achaemenid Dynasty established the communications system to facilitate the running of the vast territory of Iran. To stay up-to-date with the latest developments across this massive territory, he ordered the construction of roads, the most important of which was called the “Shahi Road” and measured 2400 kilometers. A chaparkhaneh was built every 24kms on this road, where fresh horses were always available. As government couriers reached every chaparkhaneh, they changed horses and continued on their journey at high speeds. Messages were transferred from one post to the next in this manner, until they reached their destination.
This is what Darius the Great said about his fast riders:
Neither snow nor rain, nor heat nor darkness can stop these agile couriers.
A similar motto can be seen on the portal of the New York Post Office today.
The second period
The postal service underwent great changes during this period. The entire service was run as an “Office” in Iran until 1879. Following its success in taking care of affairs across the country, Nasser-e-Din Shah Qajar gave the order to establish the Ministry of Posts. By 1885, Iran had seven main postal lines and five auxiliary lines.
Iran became one of the first members of the Universal Postal Union once it was founded.
New transformations took place in the country concurrently with the premiership of Mirza Taghi Khan Amir Kabir, when the new postal service was set up. In this period, a regular service began running between cities, prices were set, and postal regulations were ratified.
In 1908, the Ministry of Posts and the Ministry of Telegraphs were merged to form the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs. In late 1929, it purchased the shares of the telephone company to form the Ministry of Posts, Telegraphs, and Telephones. With the establishment of this new ministry, the country’s postal service was significantly expanded.
A history of telecommunications in Iran
After the development of the telegraph under the rule of Nasser-e-Din Shah and its successful testing in February 1857, the first telegraph line between Tehran and Chaman-Soltanieh (near Zanjan in northwestern Iran) was established by Etemadosaltaneh . During its continued expansion, this was extended to Zanjan, Tabriz, and Jolfa two years later and was joined to the telegraph network in Russia.
In 1869, Iran became a member of the International Telegraph Union, later renamed International Telecommunication Union.
In 1886, a series of telephone lines were installed between Tehran and Hazrat Abdol-Azim, measuring nearly 8kms, by Boital the Belgian who had also been granted the concession for the Rey railway line south of Tehran.
The second period of telecommunications technology in Tehran effectively began in 1889, namely 13 years after the invention of the telephone, when a telephone connection was established between the two locomotive stations in Tehran and Shahr-e Rey. More telephone lines were subsequently installed between Kamranieh in the northern Tehran district of Shemiran and the building of the Ministry of War in downtown Tehran, followed by another line between the summer residence of the Qajar Shah in former Saltanatabad to the north of the city and the royal mansion in Tehran.
In 1908, the Ministry of Posts and the Ministry of Telegraphs were merged and renamed the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs. In 1923, an agreement was signed with Siemens & Halske to install underground telephone cables. Three years later, in November 1926, the new automatic telephone dialing system was ready for operation with 2300 cable lines at the Ekbatan Center.
In 1934, all the existing telephone companies across the country were merged into a single company called the Joint Stock Telephone Company of Iran, which operated under the supervision of the Ministry of Posts, Telegraphs and Telephones. Thus, the communication-telecommunication activities of the country were entrusted to two independent government organizations.
As the population of cities grew larger, entailing the necessity to establish further communication between locations near and far, pursuant to the Articles of Association of the Telecommunication Company of Iran, ratified in June 1971, the Joint Stock Telephone Company of Iran was dissolved and all its assets, debts, claims, facilities, and employees were transferred to a newly established Telecommunication Company of Iran.
Following the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the role of the Telecommunication Company of Iran and its employees during the Sacred Defense became a memorable one and the telecommunications network was speedily extended to the deprived rural areas. After the implementation of the main policies of Article 44 of the Constitution, the shares of the Telecommunication Company of Iran were offered on the stock exchange and it became a private company.