Phone and Internet Services
Iran’s country code is +98. To dial out of Iran call 00; if calling from outside Iran, drop the initial 0 from all area codes. Phone numbers and area codes change with disconcerting regularity, but in general numbers include a three-digit area code and an eight-digit number. The exception of Tehran is 021, followed by an eight-digit number. More than 90% of Iranians have mobile-phone access and most travelers are buying a SIM card on arrival. If you need a payphone, cards are available in newsstands, though most are for domestic calls only. Local calls are so cheap that most midrange and better hotels, bus and airport terminals have at least one public telephone permitting free local calls. International calls are also relatively cheap (US$0.20) per minute to most countries. These rates can be had at small, private telephone offices (usually open from about 7.30 am until 9 pm), where you give the number to the front desk and wait for a booth to become available. You’ll normally be charged a minimum of three minutes. In many cities international calling cards are available from newsstands, grocery stores and Internet cafes. You can’t make reverse-charge (collect) calls to or from Iran.
Iran has several mobile-phone networks but only two – government-owned MCI and MTN Irancell) enjoy wide coverage. Irancell has a onemonth tourist SIM card sold at a booth upstairs in Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport for IR500,000. The SIM gives IR200,000 worth of calls and texts (which should cover most eventualities over the course of a month) plus 5GB of data. Top up your credit at vendors displaying yellow and blue MTN signs; vendors will usually charge about 10% more than the card’s face value. Full pricing is available in English on Irancell’s website. MCI and MTN Irancell SIMs allow GPRS data transfer after a free registration process, and WiMAX has been rolled out in several cities. As a general rule, 4G is available in big cities and 3G in mid-sized ones, while there’s very basic pedal power in rural places. * You will need a local SIM card for cheap local and pricey international calls. Your home SIM will not work.
Iran received access to the Internet in 1993. According to Internet World Stats, as of 2016, about 68.5% of the population of Iran are Internet users. Iran ranks 19th among countries by number of Internet users. According to the statistics provided by the web information company of Alexa, Google Search and Yahoo! are the most widely used search engines in Iran. Instagram is the most popular online social networking service in Iran. Around 90% of Iran’s e-commerce takes place on the Iranian online store of Digikala, which has around 750,000 visitors per day and more than 2.3 million subscribers. Digikala is the most visited online store in the Middle East, and ranks fourth among the most visited websites in Iran. In Iran, internet cafes are known as cafeenets (previously called coﬀee nets), although there are fewer such places with each passing year as everyone has mobile internet and Wi-Fi is increasingly common. In Tehran, for example, there are virtually no cafenets left as pretty much all cafes, teahouses and hotels have Wi-Fi. Speeds are variable, but most cities have ADSL connections. Wi-Fi is increasingly available in hotels and cafes, and it’s usually (but not always) free. Upmarket coﬀee shops invariably have Wi-Fi, and whether you pay for it or not seems to depend a little on how much you pay for your coﬀee.