Vodafone and Orange are both looking to tap into the mobile communications market in Iran as international sanctions against the Gulf state gradually ease.
Vodafone this week unveiled a partner market agreement with local ISP HiWeb as it seeks entry into a country with a population of 80 million. According to the release, it appears that the operator will assist the ISP in offering fixed and mobile Internet services under the HiWeb rather than the Vodafone brand.
Orange also said in September that it was in talks with Mobile Telecommunication Company of Iran (MCI), the country's largest mobile operator, "regarding a number of areas of potential cooperation and business topics," Reuters reported.
The BBC News reported in January that international sanctions on Iran were lifted after international nuclear watchdog the IAEA confirmed that the country had complied with a deal designed to prevent it developing nuclear weapons.
HiWeb CEO and chairman, Seyed Iman Miri, noted that Iran’s telecoms market has great potential for new investment and the expansion of fixed and mobile broadband services.
“The partnership with Vodafone allows us to utilise Vodafone’s vast experience and knowledge in this field. This helps HiWeb in realising its ambitious plan to be a leading operator in Iran’s telecom market and offers our customers a whole suite of innovative and new services such as high quality wireless broadband, IoT and a wide range of enterprise services,” he said.
Vodafone typically uses non-equity partner market arrangements such as these to target markets where it does not have a presence. It signed a number of similar deals in recent years. The Vodafone brand is often used as part of these agreements, but certainly not always: for example, it has a similar agreement with SFR in France.
Vodafone Partner Markets CEO, Diego Massidda, said: “I am delighted to reach agreement with HiWeb on a partnership that will benefit both parties in Iran. Vodafone’s corporate customers will get the benefit of quality network services in the country -- including in rural areas -- and HiWeb will be able to access Vodafone’s global expertise to support the roll out of products, infrastructure and the launch of IoT services in Iran.”