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Argentina has three national operators:
- Claro (by América Móvil)
- Movistar (by Telefónica)
- Personal (by Telecom Argentina)
A fourth provider called Nextel with limited coverage uses incompatible iDEN instead of GSM technology.
They all have about the same market share, so plans are pretty much alike for the three of them. The coverage of all three providers are quite similar. 2G and 3G is on 850 and 1900 MHz, so users from Europe and Asia need a "US-band" device. 4G/LTE is on AWS (1700/2100) MHz and B28 (700 APT) (B28 being currently only used by Personal).
Generally data is pretty slow and 3G coverage variable, although it has greatly improved in areas with 4G availability. In Argentina WiFi is available almost everywhere. That's why all operators only offer small amounts and no big data packs. The first MVNOs started with Nuestro and Quam, now renamed in Tuenti móvil, but don't offer good data choices for visitors so far.
Prepaid SIM cards are not registered until now. This may change soon as operators will need to verify and identify all mobile phone users via a central register with a view to reducing the trafficking of stolen handsets. The new rules require that the operators themselves must pay to “develop, operate and manage” the register, which is being set after regulator Enacom ordered all mobile service providers to block equipment reported as lost or stolen.
Availability and rechargesEdit
All three operators offer prepaid SIM cards (called 'chips' in Argentina) and can be bought in hundreds of shops around the city and public transports. They sell the chips at around $30-50.
The number usually comes already activated, and then you can charge your new chip/sim using prepaid cards, at automated vending machines, or many shops around the city. You will see signs with a legend like "Carga virtual", or look out for the orange vending machines in kiosk shops. You will be asked to enter your number, then you feed in bills up to the amount you want, and then click confirm. A small receipt is printed and you credit is added nearly instantly. You should receive an SMS confirmation with your new credit. Most will only accept cash. If you want to use a credit card go to a branded store or use the online option at the official website for the carrier.
All prices quoted in $ are in Argentine Peso (AR$), not US$. A special tax of 1% called ENARD (Ente Nacional de Alto Rendimiento Deportivo) must be added to all prices. Due to the high inflation at a rate of 40% in 2016, you can expect prices in AR$ to rise without prior notice.
ClaroEditClaro (formerly called CTI Movil) owned by Mexican América Móvil is still market leader by a small margin.
You can buy prepaid SIMs (chips) and recharge cards at Claro Customer Care Centres (shop locator), kiosks, pharmacies, service stations, supermarkets, any outlets or shops where you can see the logo of Claro. For 4G/LTE you'll need an USIM card.
They sell different chips for smartphones, tablets and computers (modems). Start-up price for the SIM card is around $50-100.
Default data is according to these rates:
- daily (0-24h) flat of 50 MB for $ 6 for Plan prepaguero tripilica
- daily (0-24h) flat of 50 MB for $ 3.80 in Plan prepago nacional
Once the quota is reached, speed will be reduced to 128 kbps. You can restart high speed volume up to 3 times a day by texting TURBO to 252. For this, the same amount will be deducted.
Data feature packs Edit
They offer one weekly package for data at $ 35. To activate text '7x' to 454 or enter *989#. 50 MB in high speed per day is offered, before speed drops to 128 kbps. This is reset at midnight. After the week is over, a new package will be offered to you, but it isn't automatically renewed.
- APN: igprs.claro.com.ar
- Username: clarogprs
- Password: clarogprs999
Movistar EditMovistar is owned by Spanish Telefónica and still the No.2 in the country. It has the widest 4G/LTE coverage in the country covering 68% of population in 2016. Service is available in more than 380 locations, including all 23 provincial capitals and the capital Buenos Aires.
Chips and recharges are sold in their shops and outlets. They are also often available from kiosks for around $30-50 (though these are often re-used old number so you may have pre-exisited premium SMS subscriptions. Register on the Movistar site, so you can check that you are not losing credit). For recharges you are awarded bonuses: For $50-80 you get $30 and $100-180 you get $80 bonus.
Default data ratesEdit
They offer two prepaid plans:
- Plan Prepego Multiplicate: daily data pack at $ 5.50
- Plan Prepago Nacional: daily data pack at $ 3.46
Like Claro, Movistar has daily (0-24h) "flat" rates for prepaid called Internet día plus with 50 MB block that lasts untill midnight. When you start using internet, you will be billed automatically once per day for first block and you will receive sms “Ya estas navegando con INTERNET x DÍA PLUS! Tenes 50MB para navegar hasta las 0 hs por $6,50(or 3,46).”
When 50MB is used, you will get sms from 772 "Alcanzaste los MB disponibles y se reducira la velocidad. Responde SI y recuperala x $6,50(or 3,46) cada 50 MB con Internet por dia Plus y segui navegando hasta las 0hs.". Just reply SI to 772 to buy new block of 50MB.
If you don't add further blocks then you still have internet access for the remainder of the day, but at a reduced speed of 32 kbps only.
Detailed info about blocks you can read(Spanish only) here.
Data feature packsEdit
They offer only one pack. For $ 35 per week you get 50 MB per day for 7 days. For overuse you can switch to the daily pack (see above). Activation by texting Internet to 2345.
Roaming option Edit
On the their new promotion "Roaming all inclusive" you can roam for a US$ 7 per 24 hours in the Telefónica networks in Germany, the UK (on O2), Brazil (on Vivo), Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Spain, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela (all on Movistar) up 500 MB at up to 4G speeds before you will be throttled to 256 kbps. This option is automatically enabled.
Data-only SIM Edit
For tablets and modems they sell their data-only plan Internet Prepago with one option only: 200 MB data in up to 4G speed for the rest of the day until midnight at $ 18. This is automatically enabled as soon as you connect to the net. After having used 200 MB you will receive a SMS. This is auto-renewed unless you text 'NO' or 'OPTION' to 772. Then you can release another 200 MB only by confirming 'SI' to 772.
- APN: wap.gprs.unifon.com.ar
- Password and Username: wap
- to check balance, send any sms to 444
Personal has 4G/LTE in 22 cities across 16 provinces, and is available for all plans (including prepaid) in 2016. It's the only Argentinian carrier so far that's using band 28 on 700 MHz and 1700/2100 MHz for 4G/LTE.
Chips and recharges are sold in their shops and outlets (shop locator) , and the same shops around the city that all other companies and come with $10 credit after activation.
Default data ratesEdit
They have different prepaid plans on offer:
- Prepago Nacional: data $ 6.20 per day for 50 MB
- Personal con Tajeta: data $ 3.80 per day for 50 MB
- Plan Digital Tajeta: data $9.50 per day for 100 MB
On all three plans they sell you packs for a calendar day until midnight. When used up, you can buy another daily pack or will be throttled to 32 kbps. Add 1% tax to all rates.
Data feature packsEdit
You can add the "Pack Simple" for "unlimited" internet within 7 days for $ 22.99 by texting ACT SIMPLE to 152 or the "unlimited" internet for 30 days for $ 89.99 by ACT INTERNET30 to 152. Speed will be reduced to 32 kbps when using more than 30 MB per day.
- APN: gprs.personal.com
- Username and Password: gprs
Tuenti móvil (formerly Quam) Edit
Tuenti móvil (formerly called Quam) is the biggest MVNO in Argentina, started at the end of 2013 as a subsidiary by Telefónica. It targets primarily young people and uses the network of Movistar. But foreigners should stay away from it (see below).
As a foreigner without a valid Argentinian ID (DNI) number, you will not be able to activate your SIM card. For activation a Argentinian DNI number is essential. So tuenti móvil is not recommended at this time.
Availablility Edit SIM cards are available online for free to be sent to an Argentinian postal address or at kiosks showing their logo for around $15. There, they sell recharges too. The chip can be activated online or by calling *999.
Data feature packs Edit Quam only offers two packages including data, domestic texts and domestic voice
Combo Semana: 7 days, 350 MB data, 3000 SMS, 25 minutes voice: $30
Combo Mes: 30 days, 1.5 GB data, 5000 SMS, 100 minutes voice: $90 Data speed is up to 384 kbps.
Technical Settings Edit
- APN: internet.movil
- Username and Password: internet
Nuestro was the first MVNO in the country at all. It uses the network of Personal (see above). SIM cards can be obtained in their shops (list). That's where you find their recharge vouchers of $20 or $30 too.
They have different plans called Hablemos Más or Tuyo. But they don't include data. In fact, they don't even sell data packages and data stays on all plans at a default rate of $0.005 per 5 KB.
- APN: gprs.nuestro.com
- Username: gprs
- Password: adgj