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 a seven-digit number. The exception is Tehran, where 021 is followed by an eight-digit number.
More than 90% of Iranians have mobile phone access and most travellers buy a SIM card on arrival. If you need a payphone, cards are available in newsstands, though most are for domestic calls only. In our experience, every second card phone is broken. Local calls are so cheap that most mid-range and better hotels, bus stations and airport terminals have at least one public telephone permitting free local calls.
International calls are also relatively cheap to most countries. The 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 will normally be charged a minimum of three minutes. In many cities, international calling cards are available from newsstands, grocery stores and coffeenets.
You can’t make reverse-charge (collect) calls to or from Iran. Hotels are by far the most convenient place from which to telephone abroad and long-distance calls are relatively cheap. From Tehran hotels, the connection is usually quite quick, but it may be necessary to wait an hour or two when calling from smaller towns as all calls abroad have to go through a receptionist.
It is also possible to send telegrams and telexes within the country or abroad from post offices in the larger towns. These services are also available in the bigger hotels.
Iran has several mobile-phone networks but only two, government-owned MCI and MTN Irancell, which is owned by the Iranian government and South African group MTN, enjoy wide coverage. Of these, Irancell has pay-as-you-go SIM cards that non-residents can buy for a copy of your passport (most people buy and get the SIM activated on arrival at Imam Khomeini International Airport in Tehran). Top up your credit at vendors displaying yellow and blue MTN signs, who always charge about 10% more than the card’s face value.
Irancell SIMs allow GPRS data transfer after a free registration process, and WiMAX has been rolled out in several cities. The GPRS service is unreliable and download speeds slow.
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.
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.
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