It seems that AT&T and Rightel (the third mobile operator in Iran) have found a way to cooperate with each other in order to provide mobile roaming for their users in Iran and the United States, despite the US sanctions still in place.
Because of economic sanctions and the absence of relations between Iran and the US, Iranian and American citizens were not able to use their local sim cards while traveling between the countries. The New York Times recently published an article about an Iranian-American citizen who by chance found out that his AT&T phone is receiving signals while traveling in Iran. We investigated this by looking up the websites of Rightel and AT&T and found out that both operators have mentioned their counterpart on their website. Ironically we had to use a VPN connection to access AT&T’s website with an Iranian IP address!
The JCPOA agreement which got signed last year between Iran and the P5+1, resulted in the lifting of a number of sanctions implemented on the country. Due to a number of US sanctions still in place, American companies are facing more limits and restrictions for working with Iran comparing to European and Asian companies. Recently, the United States announced a new measure which eased the sanctions on Iran. The new guidance published by the Treasury Department allows foreign companies to do business with Iran using dollars without violating the sanctions.
A question that is being raised here is that how are these two mobile operators cooperating with each other financially to bring this feature to their subscribers. AT&T has not disclosed any information on this matter according to the New York Times. This makes us wonder if other Iranian and American entities could actually somehow manage to cooperate with each other the same way these two companies did.