Mobile Phones

Iran has three mobile-phone networks. Gov-ernment-run MCI and private Thaliya have very extensive coverage but are for residents only and their whopping sign-up costs average US$300 (down from US$ 1000 a few years ago). For travellers, a much better option is Irancell (www.irancell.ir) whose pay-as-you-go SIM card costs just IR300,000. We just had to show our passports to get one, though in some places you might need a local friend to fill the (all Farsi) papers and provide a local address. To top up your credit, buy scratch cards from vendors displaying yellow and blue MTN signs, who usually charge more than the card's face value (haggle). At the time this book went to print calls cost about IR850 a minute domestic, and IR4000 a minute international. Irancell also offers a 'Data SIM', which only allows SMS messages, at IR100 locally and IR1500 for international. Irancell is growing fast and in early 2008 had coverage in all but three provinces - Kerman, Sistan va Baluchestan and Khuzestan.

Thuraya satellite phones also work in Iran.

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