Vodafone Joins Orange in Iran Phone Push as Sanctions Recede

  • British carrier signs pact with local internet carrier HiWeb
  • Global carriers seeking entry to country of 80 million people

Vodafone Group Plc formed a partnership with Iranian internet-service provider HiWeb, becoming the latest Western phone company to test for growth possibilities in a country that’s opening up to global business with the easing of international sanctions.

HiWeb will provide Vodafone’s multinational corporate customers with mobile and landline services in Iran, Vodafone said Tuesday in a statement. The British carrier will help HiWeb expand and modernize its network as part of the non-equity pact, which also covers marketing, distribution and so-called internet-of-things services for HiWeb customers.

European phone carriers want to tap into Iran’s market of 80 million people to keep growing, as prices for data in their home countries continue to decline. Sanctions that kept many companies out of Iran were eased in January, opening the door to opportunities. Orange SA of France said last month it’s in talks with Iran’s Mobile Telecommunication Co. over potential cooperation.

"Iran’s telecom market has great potential for new investment and expansion of fixed and mobile broadband services,” HiWeb Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Iman Miri said in the statement. "The partnership with Vodafone allows us to utilize Vodafone’s vast experience and knowledge in this field.”

Sanctions against Iran were lifted after inspectors certified that Iran curtailed its nuclear program as promised under a 2015 agreement with world powers.

Vodafone will also provide procurement expertise, and will be paid for its work for HiWeb, said Adam Liversage, a spokesman for Vodafone.

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