The telephone system is fairly modern and straightforward. Few people have a landline phone, so there are lots of public telephones, known as Taxiphones. They accept 100-mills, 500-mills, one-dinar and five-dinar coins. Look out for Publitel offices, which are prevalent across the country and contain rows of telephone booths. Some are open 24 hours.
In 2001, local telephone codes were incorporated into telephone numbers, so there are no longer any local telephone codes – you have to dial the entire 8-digit number when calling locally. Landline numbers start with ‘7’, while mobile numbers usually start with ‘9’ or ‘2’.
International & Local Calls
All public telephones can be used for international direct dialling. Taxiphone offices usually keep a copy of Yellow Pages (Pages Jaunes; www.pagesjaunes.com.tn), published in both Arabic and French, and may have information on international area codes.
Rates for local and international calls are 10% cheaper between 8pm and 6am.
Most urban Tunisians have a mobile (GSM 900/1800MHz) phone and coverage is almost universal throughout the country, save for more remote desert locations such as Ksar Ghilane. Tunisia’s two carriers are Tunisiana (www.tunisiana.com) and Tunisie Telecom (www.tunisietelecom.tn). You’ll also come across the heavily marketed Tunisie Telecom brand Elissa, a prepaid service for under-26-year-olds and Tunisian expats in Europe and North America. A French consortium of Divona/Orange and French Telecom were getting set to roll out the country’s third network at time of research.
While your local carrier will probably have reciprocal arrangements for global roaming in Tunisia, it’s far, far cheaper to use a Tunisian number. Look for the booths in the arrivals hall of Tunis-Carthage Airport or the numerous offices throughout the country. You’ll need your passport and a photocopy of your passport details, and to complete a form. SIM cards cost TD5 and phone credit can be bought at most small grocery shops and newspaper stands in values from TD5 to TD50. Check that your phone will operate with a different carrier’s SIM card before you leave home.