How to find the best prepaid SIM cards when visiting Papua New Guinea
4G networks expanding in island nation’s cities.
The island nation of Papua New Guinea is one of the most diverse in the world, and one of the most rural. Only 18% of its 7 million residents live in urban locations. If you are travelling to Papua New Guinea, consider investing in a local prepaid SIM card to cut down on your data, phone and text expenses in the country. You can purchase a seven-day SIM card with 1.2GB of data for PGK42 (CAD$16.60).Prices last updated 2017/10/15
Prepaid SIM card purchase regulations in Papua New Guinea
In 2016, SIM card registration became mandatory in Papua New Guinea. Anyone owning or purchasing a SIM card must register their name, address and occupation, as well as agree to be photographed. Failure to do so will result in the SIM card being disconnected. Presently the registration process is manual, but software solutions to speed up the process are being worked on.
There are three network operators in Papua New Guinea. They are:
- Digicel PNG
- Telikom Mobile
Telikom Mobile is the new kid on the block and offers 4G/LTE, as does Digicel PNG.
What follows is an overview of the different operators to help you compare features.
Digicel has the most coverage and the largest number of customers. Its 4G/LTE network started in Port Moresby, and its prepaid SIM cards are sold across the country. Top-ups can be purchased on Digicel’s website or by using vouchers called Flex Cards. They come in the following denominations and days of credit:
- 30 days for PGK3, PGK5 or PGK10
- 90 days for PGK20 and PGK50
- 120 days for PGK100
Digicel has a creative variety of data plans based on your length of stay, along with short-term plans of less than a day and plans focused solely on social media. All bundles have a rate of PGK0.49 per MB once you run out of credit, and all plans automatically renew with sufficient credit. If you purchase the same plan over again, any unused data can roll over to the new plan.
|Data volume||1-day price||3-day price||7-day price||30-day price|
To activate a plan, dial *777# and follow the prompts.
Digicel also offers four short-term plans. They are:
|500MB||12am to 5am||PGK4|
|1.2GB||12am to 5am||PGK6|
Its social plans offer unlimited Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but deny access to all other websites. These plans include:
In 2017, bmobile-Vodafone sealed a merger with Telikom PNG, but bmobile-Vodafone services are still active. You can get a SIM card at any of its outlets or resale stores. Activate your SIM card by dialling 1250.
Top-up cards come under the label of “TopKad” and come in denominations of PGK3, PGK5, PGK7, PGK10, PGK20, PGK50 and PGK100. There is additional validity from 14 to 120 days. Dial *121<voucher number># to top up. To check your balance, dial *120#.
bmobile-Vodafone’s default data rate is PGK0.30 per MB. It has multiple packages that offer better options. They include:
To activate any of these data bundles, dial *777# and follow the prompts. If you go beyond the limit on your data plan, you will be charged the default rate.
Telikom Mobile is a product of Telikom PNG, now in its sixth decade of business. Although the company began its 4G/LTE network in 2017, it’s not advertising any rates or bundles on its website as of 15 October 2017, and the company has not responded to our requests for information. The company’s website claims to have the lowest prepaid MB rate on GSM and the highest speed for data usage in Papua New Guinea but offers no specifics yet.
In addition to being an online review platform for hotels and attractions, TripAdvisor has an impressive online community of members. Here’s some advice from recent visitors to Papua New Guinea:
“Buy only Digicel – there is a stand as you come out through the international airport. Buying top-up credit is easy everywhere but buying the SIM cards is much harder outside the main cities. Make sure you get the instructions for adding voice and data credit, they will cut the SIM card to fit nano or micro. Coverage depends on where you are but usually 3G in Moresby it is pretty fast for video – elsewhere certainly OK for email and texts.”
Pros and cons of Papua New Guinea’s top SIM card operators
Papua New Guinea has three major SIM card providers. Here are some of the positives and negatives about these companies.
- Digicel has an established 4G network in Moresby.
- Diverse data packages available on Digicel.
- No available SIM card information on the latest provider, Telikom Mobile.
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