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Once a pivotal point of US military defense, the island nation of Guam has become a tourist haven for Americans and Japanese citizens alike. Because of its extreme distance from the United States, a vacation to Guam can be an expensive one. So being able to cut costs on certain expenditures is the ideal way to get the most bang for your buck and enjoy this international vacation to the fullest. You can buy 1GB of data from a leading telco provider for as little as $10.
A smart tip for lowering your travel costs is to make use of Guam prepaid SIM cards as opposed to using your own cell phone provider. Several common US brands either do not operate in Guam or have high roaming charges because Guam is considered an international destination, despite its status as a US territory.
There are four main cell phone providers in Guam: GTA Teleguam, iConnect, IT&E and DoCoMo. All four have loyal customer bases and different strengths so we’ll describe each of them, to help you make the best decision for your needs.
This provider was originally Pulse Mobile, but was sold to Indonesian Telkom in 2015, and then renamed GTA Teleguam to be more reflective of the area it covers. At present, it only covers the island of Guam, not any of its neighbors such as Saipan, located about an hour’s flight to the north.
Teleguam SIM starter kits are in a 3-in-1 package, with a mini-SIM which contains removable micro- and nano-SIM cards. If you need refills, known in Guam as top-ups, they are available at multiple locations across the island, including American military bases, retails stores and most grocery stores. Typically, the cost of a new startup SIM card package ranges between $15 and $20 and comes with five free days of usage as an incentive.
The default data rate is $0.10 / MB for Teleguam and there’s a $3 daily plan that gives you unlimited data for a 24-hour period. Teleguam offers five monthly data plans depending on how much data you’ll be accessing as well as how many local calls you plan on making.
In 1999, iConnect bought out Motorola’s mobile radio network covering Guam and Saipan. It later added coverage to Tinian and Rota. iConnect’s signature feature is Nationwide Minutes, which allows users to call all 50 states in the US for the price of a local call. iConnect promotes itself as the first all-digital push-to-talk cell service on Guam and the first to extend that service to Saipan, Tinian and Rota.
iConnect packages three SIM cards together in the iConnect Advanced 4G SIM which is sold at any of iConnect’s four Guam locations. The charge is $15 and cards can be refilled with either credit cards or vouchers. Data on the 4G/LTE network is at speeds up to 21Mbps for downloads and 5Mbps for uploads.
It’s up to the customer to cancel the daily data plan before 3am the next day otherwise the service will auto-renew. The weekly 7-day and 30-day plans do not auto-renew and you will receive warnings to renew them starting about 48 hours prior to the end of the term.
This is the third incarnation of this company, which began as PTI on Guam and CNMI in the Northern Mariana Islands. IT&E also maintains the submarine cable as well as the cellular networks connecting Guam, Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. IT&E varies from the other three Guam-based SIM providers in that its network is on a CDMA-standard, meaning it’s non-compatible to GSM devices in most cases. US products Sprint, Verizon and US Cellular use CDMA networks, while AT&T and T-Mobile do not.
In 2014, IT&E began 4G/LTE coverage for both systems at 700MHz, but has no available coverage for 2G/3G GSM customers. The SIM card costs $19.95 and comes with $10 already loaded for future purchases. The GSM 4G SIM Card is available at IT&E’s storefront locations in Guam, as is the CDMA activation.
DoCoMo Pacific is a subsidiary of Japan’s NTT DoCoMo and is the largest provider of both entertainment and telecommunications for Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the military installations that call that part of the South Pacific home. DoComo is the leading Guam Internet provider, headquartered in Tamuning, Guam, and was originally a merger of HafaTel and Guamcell Communications. Acquired by NTT DoCoMo in 2006, it started Guam’s first 3.5G network in 2011 and has since added a 4G HSPA+ network and a 4G LTE service.
DoCoMo carries 2G service at 1900 MHz, 3G/UTMS at 850MHz and 4G/LTE at 700MHz. The coverage area includes Guam, Saipan, Rota and Tinian.
DoCoMo’s prepaid SIM cards are sold inside its eight stores on Guam. The starter kit costs $19.95 and includes $10 pre-loaded credit for purchases.
DoCoMo has different data packages for 4G LTE Rates and its shorter-term “UNLI!” packages. It also has a default rate of $0.10 per MB of data. The 4G LTE packages all have hard and fast data limits, while the UNLI! offerings claim unlimited data. However, the company’s terms and conditions for data state that if you exceed data usage limits, your data service will be reduced to 256kbps download speed for the remainder of the billing period. The company does not offer any indication of what its data usage limits are for the UNLI! Packages.
While many people only think about Yelp when it comes to rating local restaurants and other businesses, the website’s user forums are also an outstanding resource for “on the ground” advice from people with first-hand experience of the SIM card market in Guam. Here are some Yelp user tips:
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