Options are limited for data on this tiny island nation in the South Pacific.
Tuvalu is a fascinating study in geography: a series of small islands totalling just 10 square miles, but spread out across 500,000 square miles near the midpoint between Hawaii and Australia. Most of the population resides on the atoll of Funafuti where you can purchase a basic SIM card for AUD10 (US$7.63).
Finder.com offers the following guide to the Tuvalu’s mobile networks. SimCorner's prepaid SIM cards let you enjoy local call, text and data rates in dozens of countries around the world.
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There is only one network operator in Tuvalu at present: Tuvalu Telecom. This is the government-owned entity that has held a monopoly since 1994. Its speeds are notoriously slow, with visitors reporting that 3G seems a lot more like 2G. Anything beyond messaging or checking email will proceed quite slowly.
The island only has satellite communications for Internet access, considerably slowing the speeds. A 4G/LTE network was announced in early 2017 in a partnership with US-based Blue Arcus Technologies. However, because Tuvalu Telecom doesn’t have a website it’s hard to know whether that service has actually started.
Tuvalu Telecom’s main office is the place to buy SIM cards. It’s easy to find, located about 70 feet from the Funafuti International Airport, right next to the police station. The cost is AUD10 and it comes with a AUD5 credit on it. There are no data bundles or special packages available. The flat data rate is AUD0.10 per MB. When you need to recharge your card, buy a scratch voucher and dial *211*<voucher code>#.
If you want to use more data at a quicker rate while in Funafuti, Tuvalu Telecom also provides Wi-Fi hotspots in the city. There are 5 hotspots and 7 repeaters scattered across the island that are much faster than the SIM card speeds.
Wi-Fi vouchers can be purchased in the Tuvalu Telecom office at the following prices:
- 100MB for AUD5
- 250MB for AUD10
- 600MB for AUD20
To get onboard, activate your device’s Wi-Fi connection and selected “Superwifi” to connect. Open this website and enter the username and password provided by the voucher. Make sure to write these words in lowercase or it won’t work.
Website: Tuvalu Telecom does not have a website.
Tuvalu has one SIM card provider. Here are some of the positives and negatives about this company.
- A 4G/LTE network was announced for 2017.
- Wi-Fi hotspots allow for more freedom in using data.
- Tuvalu Telecom has no website, making it difficult to get updates on its services.
- Service is limited outside the capital city of Funafuti.
An additional question about SIM cards in Tuvalu
Q: Are more network operators coming to Tuvalu?
A: The legal path is clear for it. In 2012, an amendment to the Telecommunications Act in Tuvalu put into law that a second operator could gain a license. The real question might be: Is it worth it to a company to invest in the market? The nation’s population growth is less than 1%. In 2016, only 2,000 visitors arrived from out of the country, the majority of them in town on business.