Internet and connectivity in Iran
Nowadays, you can find WIFI in many places in Iran. In some restaurants, coffeeshops and shopping malls free WIFI is offered for the customers. However paid internet is also available in internet café’s. Almost all the hotels are also equipped with internet connection. However as a tourist who is travelling between cities and possibly a lot of time on the roads, another attractive option to stay connected is to use portable modems or mobile internet. The last two are available only if you purchase a sim card.
There are currently four mobile telephony providers in Iran; Hamrah-e-Aval, Irancell, Taliya, Rightel. For tourists and the people who intend to stay in Iran for a short period, prepaid sim cards are the easiest to acquire. You just need to take a copy of your passport to almost every mobile shop in the country and you will receive your sim card. The rates are very comparable between these operators and is on average 80 Tomans per minute (almost 0.03 USD) for mobile calls. However it should be noted that between these four operators, Taliya is known to have the weakest connectivity and is thus not recommended.
If you are intending to use your sim card for internet connection, it is recommended to use either Irancell or Rightel as they offer the most for this purpose. You can even buy a portable modem (works on a pre-paid sim card and is as small as a garage opener) which would offer WIFI for all your devices anywhere you are. These portable modems are also to be bought from mobile / computer shops.
The cost of internet in Iran is relatively low, however the speed of connections are also quite low. As a result, don’t expect a fast internet connection to upload your videos on the road unless you are willing to pay a much higher price for your connection.
Another issue is the internet censorship in Iran; many famous websites such as Youtube and Facebook are blocked by the government. Furthermore mobile apps such as Viber might not work from time to time. However Whatsapp and Telegram can be normally used (for now!). Many Iranians use VPN connections to avoid the censorship but these VPN connections need to be updated from time to time.
For calling an abroad number from Iran, you have again many options;
- Buy a pre-paid card from the newsstands: you will need to dial the code written on the card before calling your destination number. This option is the cheapest one available.
- Go to a long-distance call centers. You will make your call and pay the amount to the reception.
- Dial 020 instead of 00 of your destination country code. This is a service provided by a private company that lets you easily make an abroad call but is a bit more expensive than buying pre-paid calls but the difference is not that much. Let’s say you want to call a number in the Netherlands: the country code is 0031 and your number is 1234567. Normally you dial 0031-1234567 but if you dial 020-311234567 your call will be discounted.