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Reza Shah emphasized telecommunications as a focus of modernization in the 1930s. Telecommunications was reemphasized in the 1960s as part of Mohammad Reza Shah's White Revolution (see Glossary). Development was financed by a consortium of international firms that established satellite links for Iran's telecommunications. By the late 1970s, Iran had telegraph, television, and data communications capabilities. The National Iranian Radio and Television Organization had sufficient television transmission capability and enough relay stations to reach about 60 percent of the population. Iran had 1.7 million television sets in 1976 and 2.1 million by 1984.

The principal complaint about the telecommunications system remained the average citizen's inability to obtain a telephone. Although the number of telephone lines increased from 400,000 to 800,000 between 1972 and 1977, hundreds of thousands of customers waited as long as two years for a telephone. By 1980 the number of telephones had increased to about 1.2 million, and by 1986 to 1.5 million. About 3,000 of 70,000 rural communities had telephones in 1987, compared with 300 in 1979. To meet the demand for telephones, authorities decided to seek local production of digital equipment, and in May 1987 the British company Plessey Major Systems was negotiating a US$166.3 million contract to supply the Ministry of Posts, Telephones, and Telegraph with almost 1 million lines of telephone exchange equipment. Automatic telephone facilities were also included in project planning.

As a result of the opening of additional microwave links between Tehran, Ankara, and Karachi, international service generally improved in the early 1980s. Temporary disruption was caused, however, by an Iraqi attack on a communications installation near Hamadan on June 8, 1986.

Data as of December 1987