MTN Irancell

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Semi Private
Industry Telecommunications
Founded 2005
Headquarters Tehran, Iran
Key people
Alireza Ghalambor Dezfouli
(Chairman and CEO)
Products Fixed-line and mobile telephony, Internet services , broadband and fixed-line internet services, digital television and network services, and global Internet Protocol backbone network

Irancell (Persian: ایرانسل‎‎) is the second largest mobile phone network operator of Iran. It is 49% owned by the South Africa-based MTN Group.

In August 2014, MTN Irancell Officially got the license for 3G and upper generation from Iran's Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) and started its network for WCDMA in band 2100.[1][2]

On December 3, 2014, Irancell officially launched Iran's first 4G LTE network in nine cities.[3]


In line with the implementation of the Third Economic, Social and Cultural Development Plan and for the realization of Article 124 of the said plan, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology held the tender for the second operator in November 2003 with the purpose of development of communications and telecommunications through privatization and foreign investment. This was done to protect foreign investment, encourage local private sector participation, promote competition, ensure healthy competition, minimize government involvement, monitoring the tariffs and services quality and protect the consumers.

After completing the tender formalities and reviewing the tenders, MCIT announced Irancell consortium as the winner of the tender for the second operator on 16 February 2004.

Once the Law on Authorization of License Agreement for Mobile and Network Services was approved by the Parliament and Guardian Council and the License fee was paid by Irancell on 25 October 2005, Irancell was granted the Mobile (GSM) Communications Network and Services License by MCIT on 27 November 2005. The said License was granted as on a national basis and includes the overall geographical coverage of Iran.

Within a short time after being granted the license, Irancell was able to complete the network operation and roll-out and started test launch of its network on 28 August 2006 (some 9 months after being granted the license). Irancell network was officially launched on 21 October 2006 in Tehran, Tabriz and Mashhad.

Engaging experienced local and international experts, Irancell managed to develop its network within a short time and provide quality services nationwide based on the international standards. Irancell network provides the subscribers with an advanced generation of GSM system to enable them get use of EDGE (2.75 G).

Enhanced Data GSM Evolution (EDGE), which is an advanced GPRS generation, enables Irancell subscribers to have access to the internet and any other similar network through mobile phone with a high speed and also enables them to send and receive voice, image and texts of big size.


MTN Irancell has two shareholders: Iran Electronic Development Company (IEDC) (51%), and MTN International (Mauritius) Limited (49%).

IEDC currently has two key shareholders:[4]



According to Reuters, the company was able to obtain banned U.S. technologies despite imposed sanctions against Iran.[5]

Sunni insult and boycott[edit]

In July 2013, Iran's Sunni community which is the second largest religious group, accused the company of insulting caliph Umar, after he was called "deceived by the Devil" in a competition's question. People in predominantly Sunni Provinces Kurdistan and Sistan & Baluchestan boycotted the company and a Sunni MP voiced their anger in a parliamentary session. Irancell later apologised for the 'unintentional mistake'.[6]

Mobile web pricing[edit]

After Irancell doubled the prices for its mobile web services in December 2014, some angered users started protesting the company via the social media. Subscribers decided to hold a boycott on the company and remove their SIM cards altogether on December 31, 2014.[7]


  1. ^ "MTN Irancell preparing for 3G launch". TeleGeography. 2014-08-07. Retrieved 2014-12-07. 
  2. ^ "MTN Irancell awarded 3G and higher generations License Agreement". 2014-08-06. Retrieved 2014-12-07. 
  3. ^ "MTN Irancell 4G Network Launched Commercially". 2014-12-03. Retrieved 2012-12-07. 
  4. ^ "Subordinate Companies - Iran Electronic Development Company". Sina Electronic Development Holding Company. Archived from the original on 2012-10-12. Retrieved 2012-06-14. 
  5. ^ Stecklow, Steve; George, Marcus; Westall, Sylvia (June 4, 2012). Michael Williams, ed. "Exclusive: Iranian cell-phone carrier obtained banned U.S. tech". Reuters. Retrieved November 21, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Iran mobile company indicted for "insulting Sunnis"". BBC World Service. 22 July 2013. Retrieved 29 December 2014. 
  7. ^ "Subscribers turning Irancell off?". Shargh (in Persian) (2198). 30 December 2014. p. 15. 

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