New Iranian Internet Infrastructure In Place
The new network is in response to fears from the Iranian government of cyberattacks and Western influence. However, the idea has been around for quite a while now, and the surprise is only that the structure is actually possible.
The core of the network is allegedly manufactured by a Chinese firm known as Huawei. It would be a reasonable alternative to the current Internet structure in place in Iran, which is accessed by most through dial-up currently.
This new, government controlled Internet could challenge current norms in the area. Much of the Arab Spring, which was the revolution that swept through the Arab world and overthrew many dictatorships, was facilitated by access to social networks, and the Egyptian government's shut-down of the Internet sparked panic across the country during that time. The new network could also prevent the U.S.--or really any government--from monitoring the movements of Iranian activists.
According to ThinkProgress.org, as of 2009, Iran has 8,214,000 Internet users, which is a significant number of people with access to the worldwide Internet. The real question therefore lies in whether Iran can move these people off of that Internet to the Iran-only one.
Reach Staff Reporter Nandini Ruparel here.