It means Irancell is on target to meet or even exceed its target of 5.5 million customers by the end of 2007.

The company, which is 49 per cent owned by South Africa’s MTN Group, had 2 million customers at the end of June, the last time it reported

customer numbers.

Dezfouli says a further 550,000 people have registered for SIM cards, but Iran’s postal service has been slow to

deliver them.

Investment bank analysts have been critical of MTN for targeting 5.5 million customers by the end of 2007. ‘The expectation of 5.5 million

subscribers for the full year 2007 is quite a stretch, and we could see some lightening in expectations,’ said Rhys Summerton,

an analyst at Citigroup, in August (MEED 24:8:07).

MTN says Irancell has generated revenues of about $160 million since its launch one year ago. Under a revenue-sharing agreement, about $80 million has been paid to the government, which owns 51 per cent

of Irancell.

Ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service estimates Irancell will spend $1,500 million building its mobile phone network in Iran. It has already spent $354 million on its licence.

In its most recent set of results, covering the six months to the end of June, MTN admits that Irancell was heavily loss-making, although it does not give a figure.

State-owned mobile operator Mobile Company of Iran, part of Telecommunications Company of Iran says it has 20 million customers.

www.meed.com/telecoms