advertisement

Telecommunications in Morocco are quite advanced for a developing country, with accessibility -- be it from public phone booths, cellphone coverage or even VoIP -- generally good throughout the country bar the most inaccessible mountain regions. In 2009 and due to the ever-increasing number of users joining the national grid, the state telecommunications provider Maroc Telecom decided to add another number to every land line and cellphone line in the country. This additional number has been inserted between what was the first and second numbers of the area code. All landline numbers have been given an additional "5." For example, the phone number 024/123456 is now 0524/123456, and 035/123456 is now 0535/123456. All cellphone numbers, no matter the network, have been allocated an additional "6." For example, the phone number 061/123456 is now 0661/123456, and 067/123456 is now 0667/123456. Shared call numbers such as those for various companies' central reservations now have an additional "0" between the first two numbers. For example, 08/123456 is now 080/123456. This major change has come after all landline area codes were first amended in 2006; most numbers north of (but not including) Casablanca changed from 055 to 035, and those south of the city changed from 044 to 024 and 048 to 028. All of this can be quite confusing for travelers, as many published telephone numbers still contain the old area codes from pre-2006.

Telephones

Coin-operated phones can be found in private téléboutiques (staffed phone booths) within every village, town, and city. You can make local and international calls from here, though you will need a stack of coins -- thankfully there is always an attendant on hand to dispense change. Card-operated public phones are scattered everywhere, including outside post offices. Cards can be bought from the post office, newspaper stalls, and tabacs (news agency-cum-tobacconist). Per-minute costs to landline numbers are currently 1dh for local calls, 1.50dh for national calls, 2.60dh to 3.75dh for calls to Europe, and up to 7dh to elsewhere.

To call Morocco from another country:

1. Dial the international access code: 011 from the U.S.; 00 from the U.K., Ireland, or New Zealand; or 0011 from Australia.

2. Dial the country code 212.

3. Dial the Moroccan number minus the first 0.

To make domestic calls within Morocco: For all calls within Morocco, drop the country code; the full area code (including the first 0) must be dialed along with the number. All numbers in Morocco begin with a three-digit area code. Codes beginning with 052 or 053 are landline numbers; all other numbers are mobile numbers.

To make international calls from Morocco: To make international calls from Morocco, first dial 00 and then the country code (U.S. or Canada 1, U.K. 44, Ireland 353, Australia 61, New Zealand 64). Next, dial the area code (drop the first 0 if there is one) and number. For example, if you wanted to call the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., you would dial 00-1-202-588-7800.

For directory assistance & operator-assisted calls: Dial 160 for a number within Morocco, and dial 126 for numbers to all other countries.

Toll-free numbers: There are no toll-free numbers within Morocco, and calling a toll-free number in the U.S., U.K., or anywhere else from Morocco is not toll-free. In fact, it costs the same as an overseas call.

Cellphones

The three letters that define much of the world's wireless capabilities are GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), a big, seamless network that makes for easy cross-border cellphone use throughout Europe and dozens of other countries worldwide. In the U.S., T-Mobile, AT&T Wireless, and Cingular use this quasi-universal system; in Canada, Microcell and some Rogers customers are GSM, and all Europeans and most Australians use GSM. GSM phones function with a removable plastic SIM card, encoded with your phone number and account information. If your cellphone is on a GSM system and you have a world-capable multiband phone such as many Sony Ericsson, Motorola, or Samsung models, you can make and receive calls across civilized areas around much of the globe. Just call your wireless operator and ask for "international roaming" to be activated on your account. Unfortunately, per-minute charges can be high -- usually $1 to $1.50 in western Europe and up to $5 in places such as Russia and Indonesia. GSM coverage in Morocco is generally excellent, bar the more inaccessible regions in the mountains and within the country's desert ergs.

For many, renting a phone is a good idea. While you can rent a phone from any number of overseas sites, including kiosks at airports and at car-rental agencies, I suggest renting the phone before you leave home. North Americans can rent one from InTouch USA (tel. 800/872-7626; www.intouchglobal.com) or RoadPost (tel. 888/290-1606 or 905/272-5665; www.roadpost.com). InTouch will also, for free, advise you on whether your existing phone will work overseas; simply call tel. 703/222-7161 between 9am and 4pm EST, or go to http://intouchglobal.com/travel.htm.

There are no phone rental companies within Morocco. However, buying a phone -- or using your own if it is compatible -- is often economically attractive, as Morocco has a cheap prepaid phone system. You can buy phones in Morocco for as little as 300dh. The major local GSM provider is Méditel. Shops selling Méditel SIM cards and prepaid top-ups are located in all urban centers, large or small. A SIM card currently costs 20dh, and top-ups can be purchased from any Méditel shop or from tabacs and general stores countrywide. The SIM card is valid for 6 months upon the first call. Each top-up extends the SIM for another 6 months, but the SIM must be used within a 6-month period or else it expires and cannot be used again. Domestic calls cost 1dh per minute to other Méditel numbers and 3.50dh per minute to other GSM numbers and local landlines. International calls cost up to 20dh per minute, depending on the destination and the time of day. All incoming calls are free.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

If you have Web access while traveling, you might consider a broadband-based telephone service (in technical terms, Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP) such as Skype (www.skype.com) or Vonage (www.vonage.com), which allows you to make free international calls between online computers, and cheap international calls if you're calling a normal phone number. Most cybercafes throughout the country will be using these programs already, complete with headset, microphone, and webcam.

Internet & Email

Morocco has truly joined the Internet era. While there is a growing number of home users, socioeconomic reasons (most people can't afford a home computer) dictate that the majority of Moroccan users frequent Internet cafes -- called "cyber" -- found in virtually every city, town, and even village that has electricity and telephones. The users are generally teenage Moroccans, who sit for hours during the evening participating in international chat rooms. Most cybercafes don't censor what their users are watching -- there's no government censorship -- and Western travelers may be shocked to find themselves sitting next to a young Moroccan lad who is surfing some pretty hard-core porn sites. Moroccans have also fully taken to speaking to loved ones via VoIP calls from their local cybercafe.

Tip: You'll find most keyboards in Morocco are designed with Arabic-language users in mind, so some letters will be in a different place from what you're used to. To bring up the @ symbol, simultaneously press Alt Gr and either the number 0 or à keys.

Without Your Own Computer -- In Morocco, by far the easiest way to check your e-mail and surf the Web is in one of the country's Internet cafes. Connection speed varies but is usually pretty fast. The cost for 30 minutes is usually no more than 10dh. Cybercafes generally open between 9 and 10am, not closing until 10 to 11pm most days, although some will close for a few hours at midday Friday. To find cybercafes in your destination, check www.cybercaptive.com and www.cybercafe.com.

With Your Own Computer -- Within Morocco there are a growing number of hotels, maisons d'hôte, and cafes that offer free Wi-Fi access or charge a small fee for usage. Most laptops sold today have built-in wireless capability. To find public Wi-Fi hot spots at your destination, go to www.jiwire.com; its Hotspot Finder holds the world's largest directory of public wireless hot spots. Throughout this book, I've advised which establishments offer Wi-Fi.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.