EghtesadOnline: Atotal of 13.06 million smartphones and cellphones worth $2.94 billion were imported in the current Iranian year’s first nine months (March 21-Dec. 21), registering a 42% and 117% growth in terms of number and value year-on-year respectably, according to the technical deputy of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration’s Statistics Office.
These figures do not include the smartphones brought in by passengers and are only based on IRICA’s official data.
“According to non-oil trade statistics for the nine months, imports amounted to 30.1 million tons worth $36.9 billion. This volume of imports includes 4,630 items [under the 8-digit HS code], which were imported from 115 countries,” Arezou Ghaniyoun was also quoted as saying by IRIB News.
The official noted that mobile phones topped the list of imported goods in terms of value and accounted for 8% of the total imports during the period adding that the number of imported smartphones was 3.89 million more compared with the last year’s corresponding period.
“On the one hand, one of the most important reasons behind the increase in the import of this product compared to the same period of last year is the rising need for smartphones by students studying at home, as most school and university classes are held online due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as those of foreign language institutes. On the other hand, the short lifespan of mobile phones [averaging three to five years] is another reason for the market’s need to import this consumer product,” she said.
Ghaniyoun said mobile phone imports reached 9.17 million devices worth $1.35 billion year-on-year.
“The implementation of the mobile phone registry plan has helped prevent the illegal entry and smuggling of the product into the country. This is while low tariff has facilitated the import of this product due to the lack of electronic industries for smartphone production in the country,” she said.
Mobile Phone Prices
The average price of each imported mobile phone during the period under review was $225, which is about $77 more than the average import value of each device in the same period of last year, which was $148.
The figure marks a 52% increase in the average price of each imported smartphone.
Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei and Nokia were the main imported cellphone brands that were mainly imported from the UAE, China, Singapore and Vietnam.
The official stated that according to news related to the mobile phone tariffs, the parliament increased the import duty on mobile phones valued over $600 from 8-12% after examining the details of the fiscal 2022-23 budget bill.
In other words, the profit of importing mobile phones worth more than $600 has increased from 1-8%. By calculating the 4% customs duty and taxes, the mobile phone import tariff rate will increase from 5-12% for mobile phones worth over $600.
For other phones priced below $600, the tariff remains the same. In addition, the profit for passengers importing mobile phones is twofold higher and is the basis for calculating the exchange rate of the Sana system ($1= 240,000 on average).
The official noted that the Ministry of Information and Communications Technologies of Iran is obliged to register all tablets, barcode readers and mobile phones in the HAMTA system, which has become operational.
In the current economic situation, by applying the new tariff for phones worth over $600, importers of this product will opt for lower priced ones that enjoy high demand.
By studying the import statistics of mobile phones valued over $600 during the period, the official said that about 5% of the total import of mobile phones was allocated to phones with higher prices.
Ghaniyoun added that due to the high average price of smartphones, the import of mobile phones accounted for 27% of the total value of imported goods in the period under review.
H1 Mobile Penetration Exceeds 156%
Alongside the rise in mobile phone imports, the mobile network penetration rate also increased.
Mobile network penetration rate in the country reached 156.64% in the first half of the current fiscal year (March 21-Sept. 22, 2021), according to Iran's Communications Regulatory Authority.
According to the periodic report published on CRA's website, Cra.ir, the total number of active SIM cards in the country reached 133.09 million on Sept. 22, up 0.96% from the first quarter (March 21-June 21).
SIM cards are provided by three domestic mobile operators, namely Mobile Telecommunications Company of Iran (MCI, or Hamrah-e Avval in Persian), Irancell and RighTel.
During the period under review, MCI held the lion's share of the market, accounting for 71.26 million SIM cards, followed by Irancell with 56.68 million and RighTel with 5.14 million.
As per the report, approximately 1.27 million SIM cards were sold in the second quarter (June 22-Sept. 22), with MCI accounting for over 53% and Irancell accounting for 42.5%.
The total number of 4G telecom stations in the country is 33,378, as against 37,707 for 3G and 43,384 for 2G.
While mobile operators have been working hard to develop 3G and 4G connections, the 2G network continues to enjoy the most extensive coverage.
MCI has 96.5% network coverage in the country, followed by Irancell at 87.21% and RighTel at 56.9%.
In terms of mobile network access in rural areas, MCI once again leads the pack, providing telecom services to 44,918 villages. This is while the reach of Irancell and RighTel extended to 19,191 and 954 villages, respectively.
According to CRA data, MCI's mobile coverage has expanded to 82,146 kilometers in the country’s road network, as Irancell and RighTel reach 64,153 km and 20,908 km respectively.