The African nation of the Gambia has 4 mobile network operators:
- Gamcel (by Gamtel)
- Comium mobile
2G/GSM is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G on 2100 MHz. 4G/LTE has started on QCell in the Greater Banjul area in 2017 and Africell in 2018 on an unknown frequency (and on WIMAX-based Netpage).
Comium is not on our list as it doesn't have 3G, Gamcell is not recommended as it's 3G is almost non-existent. So you have basically the choice between Africell that has the best overall coverage and 57% of all subscribers, but slow speeds and QCell which started a network on 3G-only with much higher speeds, but lower coverage.
In 2015 another operator called Netpage started 4G through routers and modems only using GSM- incompatible WIMAX technology in the greater Banjul area.
Since 2011 officially all SIM cards need to be registered by law. But in reality this system seems to be not so strictly enforced. Many SIM cards are still sold on the streets and Africell has given out "free" SIM cards at the airport in the past. Even the governement critisized this scheme as inefficient. So if you want to stick to the rules, prepare to show your passport in a shop of the operator. But you may get still a SIM without it.
The state enforces are rigid control over the national phone and internet system. During the presidential elections in 2016 all internet access in the country and all international call services from the country were temporarily shut down for 2 days.
Africell is the biggest mobile provider in the country with a 57% user share. It gives the best coverage in 2G and 3G, but can suffer from slow speeds due to overcrowding. It is recommended, if you go outside of the centers and don't need the highest speeds.
In January 2018 Africell has announced the commercial launch of 4G/LTE network services, joining rival QCell which introduced Gambia’s first LTE mobile service in May 2017. They have posted a series of promotional YouTube videos showing live LTE network speed tests with download/upload rates exceeding 68Mbps/20Mbps. Users are being offered a free 4G SIM card replacement for a promotional period.
Their SIM card has been given out for free in the past to arriving tourist at the internatl. airport. It's unknown, if they still do it, as this undermines the registration efforts of the government.
The prepaid SIM card price is 10 D. You can get it all over the country at their sales points.
You can recharge by scratch cards sold all over at D25, D45, D100 and D250 or by eVoucher giving your number to the vendor starting at 5 Dalasis.
Data featured packages Edit
They sell these data bundles valid for one month:
- 50 MB: D 30
- 100 MB: D 45
- 200 MB: D 90
- 500 MB: D 195
- 1 GB: D 275
- 2 GB: D 495
- 4 GB: D 750
- 8 GB: D 1,250
- 12 GB: D 1,650.
For activation call 120 or type *120# <call> and select one of the packages.
More info Edit
- APN: africellnet
- Website: http://www.africell.gm
QCell was the first provider to introduce 3G in 2012. It is the only operator offering HSPA called 3G+. Their 3G is has expanded rapidly in the last years and covers 86% of the population in 2016 to reach nationwide coverage by end of 2017. In May 2017 it started FD-LTE on an undisclosed frequency in the Greater Banjul area.
QCell mostly offers faster speeds than Africell, but still a slightly lower overall coverage and no fall back to 2G. They care for 17% of the users and are considered the premium provider in the country.
SIM Cards called Sunu SIM are sold for D 10 and come loaded with D 10. You can buy the SIM from the QCell Head Office on Kairaba Avenue in Banjul, all QCell customer service centres, all Samsung branded shops and from other local shop owners.
For topping up QCell recharge cards are available throughout the Gambia and can be purchased in D50 or D100 or by electronic recharge.
Data feature packages Edit
QCell offers these packages for 30 days, that they call Sunu Bundles:
|20 MB||D 13||*313*20#|
|40 MB||D 25||*313*40#|
|80 MB||D 40||*313*80#|
|150 MB||D 75||*313*150#|
|300 MB||D 145||*313*300#|
|750 MB||D 250||*313*750#|
|1.5 GB||D 350||*313*1500#|
How to subscribe: dial *303# to view the menu and reply with 1 to see available bundles. To buy a specific bundle, reply with the activation code.
More info Edit
- APN: qcellnet
- Website: http://www.qcell.gm
Gamcel (by Gamtel) Edit
Gamcel is run by the state-owned Gambia Telecommunications Company Ltd., or in short Gamtel. It has proven to be quite unreliable with a low coverage and almost non-existent 3G. Their company is notoriously cash-stricken and service has been bad in the past. That's why this provider is not recommended for travelers at the moment and no rates are given.
Netpage (on WiMAX/LTE) Edit
In 2015 the first 4G provider started in the Gambia. It uses WiMAX/LTE which is not compatible to GSM phones. It actually doesn't want to be a mobile provider, but cares for mobile internet on modems and routers. For now, it operates only in a limited area in Greater Banjul: Coverage Map.
For their 4G, you need to buy a new device. The offer so-called 'eggs', which are WiFi routers and other indoor and outdoor modems to be used on their network.
Data Rates Edit
All of their data are sold by the month and are really unlimited. The rate depends on the max. speed given. It starts at 256 KBit/s for D 2100 and goes up to 5 MBit/s for D 5800.
More info Edit
- Website: http://www.netpage.info