Aruba is a Caribbean island that is part of the Dutch Antilles. Its sister islands are called Bonaire and Curaçao (see this article). They are partly Dutch, but not considered a part of the EU and thus no EU roaming rules apply (unlike in the French Caribbean).
Aruba has 3 mobile network operators:
- Mio Wireless
Digicel has 2G/GSM on 900 and 1800 MHz, and 3G up to HSPA speed (advertised as "4G") on 2100 MHz.
Setar does 2G/GSM on 900 MHz, 3G up to HSPA on 850 and 2100 MHz and started real 4G/LTE on 1800 MHz in 2014.
Mio runs a GSM-incompatible CDMA network and uses EVDO as 3G, but offers the lowest rates. In June 2017 it was taken over by the government for not paying its fees.
Most prices are given in Aruba Florin (Afl. or AWG) that is fixed at 1.79 to the US$, some tourist rates are directly quoted in US$ as the dollar is accepted all over the island too. All prices displayed in this article are exclusive of local taxes (BBO - a sales tax of 1.5% and BAZV - a "health tax" of 2%). So add 3.5% for the final sales price.
Use Digicel if you go to the sister islands of Bonaire or Curacao too, as it's considered one network. Use Setar for real 4G speeds or Mio for the lowest rates, but you need to buy new hardware.
Digicel operates 2G and 3G networks all over the ABC islands including Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. Coverage is good, but not that fast: coverage map. Digicel talks a lot about "4G" in their advertising, but in real its not LTE, but only 3G/HSPA up to 7.2 Mbps.
Digicel offers roaming at no extra cost in the two other islands of the ABC group Bonaire and Curacao on their network there, but only for a steep surcharge on other Caribbean Digicel networks. So Digicel should be your better choice, if you going to visit one of the sister islands too.
SIM card and data packages can be obtained at the Queen Beatrix Airport and in their stores (locator) for a steep Afl. 35. If you choose their standard prepaid line, you may need to make a call to 146 to activate your account.
Top-up cards are available in Afl. 5, 10, 15, 25 and 50, valid for 30 to 90 days. Or use their international top-up site online by credit card. To check the balance of your account, type *142# and <call>. To top-up by voucher, enter *141*<voucher PIN>#.
If you don't use the full value of your SIM within this period, you have an additional 60 days in which you can top-up your account. Any remaining credit on the phone will be added to your new top-up amount. However, if you exceed the 60 days, your SIM will be cancelled.
Data feature packages Edit
Default rate without packages is Afl. 1 per MB, throttled to 128 kbps. Overuse rate, after the data quota of a package has been used up is at Afl. 0.45 per MB and stays unthrottled.
|1 day||75 MB||Afl. 3|
|300 MB||Afl. 9|
|3 days||250 MB||Afl. 5|
|600 MB||Afl. 10|
|7 days||750 MB||Afl. 15|
|1 GB||Afl. 29|
|1.25 GB||Afl. 20|
|14 days||2 GB||Afl. 35|
|3 GB||Afl. 39|
|30 days||3 GB||Afl. 50|
|4 GB||Afl. 65|
|6 GB||Afl. 85|
|8 GB||Afl. 84.99|
|10 GB||Afl. 135.99|
To activate type *123# and <call>. Only the daily package auto-renews, all other packs are once-off.
Digicel also introduced combo packages called All-in-One plans with included voice, text and data, valid all over the ABC islands:
- for 1 day: 350 mins Digicel calls, 5 Digicel SMS, 250 MB data: Afl. 7.99
- for 7 days: 1600 mins Digicel calls, 25 Digicel SMS, 750 MB data: Afl. 29.99
- for 30 days: 3000 mins Digicel calls, 100 Gigicel SMS, 2 GB data: Afl. 79.99
To activate a combo plan, type *135# and <call>.
Caribbean roaming option Edit
While no roaming fees apply in Curacao and Bonaire on the Digicel network, all other Digicel networks in the Caribbean are sold very expensive. For Afl. 10 by pressing *153# you get a Roam like you're home plan for 10 days. Data rates will then be discounted to US$ 0.50 per MB in all Digicel roaming networks.
More info Edit
- APN: digicelaruba.com
- Website: http://www.digicelgroup.com/aw/en/mobile.html
Setar operates the islands fastest network running on 2G, so-called "4G" (= 3G/HSPA) and real 4G/LTE on 1800 MHz with speeds up to 30 Mbps. Additionally, it has own WiFi hotspots too, called WiFi Aruba. But unlike Digicel, there is no free roaming on the neighbouring islands.
Prepaid SIM cards can be obtained at the Queen Beatrix Airport arrivals hall in a shop that is open every day, but closes already at 6pm. Or at some 5 different stores/outlets on the island, that are all closed on Sundays (shops list).
Their SIM cards are pre-cut to all 3 different sizes (Triple Sim Card). New SIM-cards are SIM-locked with PIN code 0000. SIM card with basic services (call + SMS) is a ghastly Afl. 35. A SIM card needs to be activated by *123#.
Top-up cards are called prepaid cards and are available at Afl. 5, 10, 15, 25, 35, 50, valid for 15 to 90 days. You can buy these cards at most supermarkets, bars and restaurants and at all of Setar's shops, at retail stores and gasoline stations. Or you can top-up online using a credit card.
Data feature packages Edit
Data by default is charged at Afl. 2 per MB. Data packages can be bought in different sizes:
|250 MB||Afl. 5||1 day|
|600 MB||Afl. 10||2 days|
|750 MB||Afl. 12||3 days|
|1 GB||Afl. 19||7 days|
|2 GB||Afl. 32||14 days|
|3 GB||Afl. 49||30 days|
|5 GB||Afl. 79||30 days|
To activate, type *123#, choose 1 for data bundles, then choose one of their bundles and press 1 again to confirm your purchase for which you will receive a SMS.
When your purchased bundle is depleted (and only then), you can purchase a new bundle or, if you allowed internet usage on your phone, you can continue using the default rate of Afl. 2 per MB; which is much more expensive. You can block this default rate and data will be shut off, when used up by *123#, choose 6 for allow/block data charges, choose 2 for blocking and 1 to confirm.
They also offer combo plans with included Setar call minutes, Setar texts and internet data:
- 1 day: 300 mins Setar calls, 25 Setar SMS, 250 MB: Afl. 8
- 7 days: 1200 mins Setar calls, 50 Setar SMS, 750 MB: Afl. 30
- 14 days: 2000 mins Setar calls, 100 Setar SMS, 1 GB: Afl. 45
- 30 days: 3000 mins Setar calls, 200 Setar SMS, 2 GB: Afl. 75
To activate a combo bundle, type *123#, enter 2 for combo bundles, choose a bundle and press 1 to confirm.
Data-only SIM Edit
For tablets and routers Setar offers data-only plans:
- US$ 30: SIM card, US$ 5.70 credit, 1 GB data for 1 day
- US$ 55: SIM card, US$ 5.70 credt, 4 GB data for 7 days
Prices are for regular SIM cards, micro SIMs are Afl. 3 more. These packages can be added:
- US$ 5: 1 GB for 1 hour
- US$ 10: 1 GB for 24 hours
- US$ 35: 4 GB for 7 days
- US$ 70: 10 GB for 30 days
Max. speed is 30 Mbps on their LTE network.
WiFi plans Edit
Setar runs a number of about 30 WiFi hotspots (list of locations) called Wi-Fi Aruba, that can be accessed using special WiFi prepaid cards, sold at Setar shops or at the hotspot locations. Data is unlimited and only time-restriced:
- 60 minutes: US$ 5
- 24 hours: US$ 10
- 7 days: US$ 35
- 30 days: US$ 70
Time is measured continuosly from the first login. More info about connectivity and how to set up your WiFi connection, you can find at http://www.wifi-aruba.com/
More info Edit
- APN: internet.setar.aw
- Website: http://setar.aw/
MIO Wireless Edit
MIO Wireless started in 2011 and is the smallest provider in Aruba. It operates on CDMA standard and EVDO for data, which is not compatible to GSM phones that are used in most other parts of the world. However, some Verizon and Sprint users from the US can try to activate their own device on MIO.
MIO had its business taken over by the government in July 2017 for non-payment of fees. The company disclosed to its 6,000-plus customers that in June 2017 the government issued it with a letter via a bailiff informing it of the business seizure (‘nationalisation’) with immediate effect.
Hardware offer Edit
As they give out data at quite low rates, buying one of their WiFi hotspot router (called MiFi) or an USB dongle with a mobile internet data plan can be a valuable option for GSM users too.
The one time fee for their MiFi unit is currently US$ 56 and then its yours to keep even though it doesn't work anywhere else in the world (you can probably re-flash it though). They also sell USB dongles at lower prices and other routers to be activated on their network.
Data bundles come in packages of 5 GB for AWG 69, 15 GB for AWG 99 and 25 GB for AWG 145. Billing cycle runs from 1st to 1st of the month. A small government tax and an activation fee is applied on top of these prices. If you pay before the 1st of the next month, unused data will roll over. After you data allowance has been used up, speed will be throttled or you can buy these add-ons: 1 GB for AWG 20, 2 GB for AWG 35, 3 GB for AWG 48 or 4 GB for AWG 60.
More info Edit
- Website: http://www.mioaruba.com/