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Guide to unlimited, unfiltered internet access in Iran

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Iran

Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 17/04/2024, 21:15

Hi, I'm Joanna, the author of The Blond Travels. In the worlds of Thailand and Portugal, I feel like a fish in water - and it's no coincidence! I've been exploring Thailand for over a decade, and I've settled in Portugal for 6 years now. My mission is to support Dreamers - just like you - in discovering these fascinating countries and helping those in love with them find their own place on Earth, preferably for good! Let's uncover these unique corners of the world together.

Are you going to Iran and want to stay in touch with the world? Bloggers, Instagrammers and those that want to keep in touch with friends and family back home won’t be disappointed. The internet in Iran works and it’s good enough to do everything what we want and what we’re used to. However, before you go, you need to be aware of a few important things.

Things you need to know

Internet in Iran works. In some places you will get 3G (mainly in the desert), but in the cities you normally can access LTE.

Mobile networks reach about 29.13 Mbps (download) and 12.33 (upload). Wi-fi is normally 13.26 Mbps (download) and 6.24 (upload).

Your SIM card won’t work in Iran. The outside networks are blocked. You can access the Internet from your mobile or a laptop, but you need to have:

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How to get an Iranian SIM?

Maybe during your stay you won’t need to contact the world. Probably you will prefer to focus on the real world instead of Facebook or Instagram. But I would encourage you to buy an Iranian SIM because that allows you to download GPS, contact hotels and even use the Iranian Uber (but only on phones that are not American brands).

How to buy an Iranian SIM card?

You will get your SIM at the airport. After landing in Teheran, go through the security check and immigration and then go upstairs, to the first floor. There you will find a small currency exchange kiosk and a stand with SIM cards.

You can also buy a card in every hotel or hostel. Just ask at the reception. The staff will give you the card and help you to install it. They will even show you how to use the VPN in the phone.

You must have your passport with you when registering your card. The seller will need a copy of it. After that you will have to fill in a form and register in the system.

The practicalities

You will get the SIM card, but it will start working after 24 hours. After that time you need to switch off and switch on your mobile.

Almost all tourist SIM cards are 5GB. They are suited for every mobile and despite the fact that Apple is not a very liked brand, the cards fit the devices with no problems.

The cost of one card is about 5,000 – 10,000 Tomans, so about 50,000 – 100, 000 Rials.

Remember about VPN!

You might be wondering what a VPN is. I don’t know much about technology. That’s why I will quote Wikipedia.

A virtual private network (VPN) is a secured communications channel implemented over shared, public networks – i.e. the internet – to connect remote users and machines to a private network – i.e. a company’s network. Privacy is achieved by authenticating the connecting parties and encrypting the communications channel to prevent eavesdropping on data traversing the channel.

Wikipedia

To my blonde mind, this means that VPN allows you to access sites which might be blocked in a country. Thanks to that you can ‘fool’ the system, which thinks you are somewhere else. One of my friends uses VPN to book flight tickets. He claims that Google lifts the prices if you’re in a western country. So, he sets the VPN so it looks like he’s in Romania, or Turkey, and gets a cheaper quote. I’m not sure if that’s actually true, but you get the idea how it works.

VPN also makes your connection safer and it protects your privacy.

The Iranian government blocks Facebook. If you want to stay in touch with your friends and family, you need VPN to be able to connect with them. On my phone I also had problems with accessing Instagram and Google without VPN. As far as I could tell more sites are blocked on Apple devices than on other ones.

How to buy and install VPN?

It’s very simple and cheap. Not all VPNs work in Iran and it all depends on the brand of your device. I use Mac and Iphone and before I had gone to Iran, I installed NordVPN, which worked like magic.

To install NordVPN you need to:

  • Enter their site.
  • Buy the subscription.
  • Install the application on your phone and other devices you want to use in Iran.

To use VPN you need to:

  • Have access to the Internet.
  • Open the application on your device.
  • Log in.
  • Choose a country you want to connect from. In Iran I recommend using the network from Georgia, Turkey or Israel.
  • Wait for the connection, which will be visible at the top of the screen.

Below you will find a video, which shows exactly the way to use VPN.

At the very beginning I had some problems with connecting to VPN. I tried a couple of networks, but without much luck. Only after reseting my phone and waiting a couple of hours, I got it to work.

The connection lasts for a couple of hours and you don’t need to log in every time you want to use the Internet. Sometimes the network is a bit weak, but only when you’re outside the city, or you don’t use your phone during a longer period of time.

I’m not a person that knows technology well and I often break something or press a wrong button, but this time I was fine (with a small help of a receptionist in Teheran at the very beginning of my trip). During the whole trip I used the VPN and an Iranian SIM, which worked very well. I can really say that the Internet in Iran works you can have contact with the outside world without any problems.

Do you have any questions? Would you like to share your experiences or your point of view? Don’t be shy! Leave a comment!

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