The ministry of communication and information technology of Iran announced that by the end of September 2016, 150 million SIM cards have been distributed across the country of which approximately 79 million have been activated, therefore the penetration rate of cell phones has reached 98.9%. Estimates show that nearly half the SIM cards sold on the market are inactive.
There are three main mobile operators active in Iran: Hamrahe Aval (MCI) with 43% of the market, MTN Irancell, 53% market-share and Rightel with 4% of the Iranian mobile market.
By the end of September 2016, the Hamrahe Aval (MCI), the oldest service provider in the country, has distributed 18.5 million permanent SIM cards and 46 million prepaid cards, out of which 46 million are active on the network, i.e. 70%.
The penetration rate of this operator is therefore 57.25%. This figure at the same time last year was 53 percent. The success rate of calls within its own network, i.e. from Hamrahe Aval to the same operator, is 98.76%, whereas the total success rate of calls, i.e. from Hamrahe Aval to other operators including roaming, is 50.41%.
MTN Irancell, the second largest mobile operator in Iran, established in 2005, is rather concentrated on prepaid SIM cards. By September 2016, it had 78.5 million prepaid SIM cards, whereas its permanent cards are less than 800 thousands. From which 39% of cars are active on the network, equivalent to 31 million.
Success rate of calls within its own network is above 98%. This figure for calls from Irancell to other operators is 48%.
The third and newest service provider in Iran is Rightel. It started its activities in 2007. Rightel’s main focus is also prepaid services and mobile Internet. Its share from Iranian market is about 4%, although only 30% of its SIM cards are active on the network. Rightel was the first provider of 3G Internet in Iran until later the other operators got the license to provide such services.
There are some minor mobile operators in Iran as well. Statistics show there are currently 50 thousand active Talia SIM cards across the country, 10 thousand MTCE (Mobile Telecommunication Company of Esfahan) active SIM cards in Esfahan and 12 thousand active Telekish SIM cards in Hormozgan.