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mobile communication services ( Sim card ) for tourists in Iran.
Hello everyone, it has been a while since I started my research on the quality and the accessibility of mobile communication services for tourists in Iran and i guess now i can share some information to keep my fellow travelers out of trouble.
Nowadays having a reliable, stable and fast Internet access is way more important than being able to make a phone call, hands down no doubt about it.
I decided to start this topic by having a comparative prospects and note the precautions to not lose your sim card or get in to trouble.
۱ – there are 3 major mobile operators in Iran which are: “Hamrah Aval, MTN Irancell, Rightel” all these companies use GSM service which means if you own a contract phone with CDMA service supporting operator “i.e Sprints, Verizon” there will be no mobile service for you.
۲ – The price table for a sim card is like this:
Hamrah aval & Irancell: 100000 rials (about 3$)
Rightel: 200000 rials (about 6$)
All the prices are for prepaid sim cards
۲ – all these companies provides both 3G & LTE 4G Internet network for you but Irancell provide 60% 4G coverage
Rightel provides 30% 4G coverage
Hamrah Aval provides 20% 4G coverage
But you’d better know that both Hamrah aval and Rightel’s 4G coverage is just theories and you will never see a 4G or LTE icon next to your signal while using them.
۳ – these sim cards are prepaid and the talking price is about 950 rials/min but if you call to a same network number there will be a discount (i.e An Irancell to Irancell call is about 650 rials/min)
۴ – to be able to use Internet with your sim card you have to do frustrating process ; you have to buy an Internet package which needs to have sufficient balance on your sim card account. You can buy balance from all the grocery stores and newspaper stands (also from Internet but we’re not talking about it as long as it needs an Iranian bank account). And the simplest way to buy Internet package is using My irancell mobile app (available for both android and ios) for Irancell sim cards (there is no easy way for the other 2) or just ask your sim card seller or a friend to do it for you.
۵ – These sim cards have an expiration date so if you haven’t used your sim card since your last visit and it has been 3 months, you’d better forget it and get a new a sim card
۶ – I’ve been countering many people having problem with getting connect to Internet with their sim cards or having a slow connection even under LTE coverage and 90% of them suffer wrong APN setting (especially Samsung owners), I’m not explain it here because it varies from phone to phone, but any official Irancell or Hamrah aval seller should be able to fix it for you.
۷ – always BUY a new sim card from OFFICIAL SELLER. Never take your friend’s/host/guest old sim card, Every sim card is registered in the name of someone and she/he is the legal owner of the Sim card and the owner is responsible for any crime or disturbance made with that. also owner can deactivate the Sim card remotely at anytime. Keep in mind that unofficial seller will try to sell a registered sim card to make their selling faster and more profitable and note that there ARE unofficial sellers at the Airports. Mtnirancell and Hamrah Aval both have official seller which register a totally new sim card for you at Imam Khomeini Airport and some other airports. Irancell owns a big white round stand with Irancell’s yellow logo on it or just a yellow table and Hamrah Aval owns a big square white stand with its calligraphic logo written in black.
My Conclusion : among all these operators Irancell is the best for its fast Internet service, less complex services and cheap price. I can’t really suggest the other two which they still have problems providing basic services for even native users and always remember to buy a brand new sim card registered for you.
All these information are based on researches from working in mobile telecommunication business for 3 years and my last month experience from talking to my traveler friends at Imam Khomeini Airport.
Any questions or comments to make this topic more useful would be welcome.