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Laos

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Basics Edit

Laos has four GSM network operators:

  • Unitel
  • Laotel
  • Beeline
  • ETL

A fifth company called Planet online uses incompatible WIMAX standard in Vientiane only and is mentioned at the end of the list.

Frequencies and coverage Edit

Note that internet services in Laos, although improved from 2011 had generally become worse and slower by early 2014, probably due to international bandwidth limitations and local congestion. Tourists and others on the move are unlikely to be impressed as speed is somewhat slower than in neighboring countries; higher quality connections are available to those living near Vientiane capital.

2G/GSM is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G/UMTS is on 2100 MHz up to HSPA+. 4G/LTE is said to have started on Laotel, Unitel and possibly Beeline on 900 and 1800 MHz in Vientiane and other cities, but is sometimes not working.

Outside the capital and main cities, where Beeline and Unitel are faster than Laotel or ETL, choice of the best mobile internet service depends on operator coverage which varies between provinces. Unitel now covers most of Laos and is possibly faster than LaoTel or ETL. It's wise to carry several SIMs (cheap to buy) especially for the northern provinces.

For all providers Edit

All four mobile telecom operators are partly or fully owned by the Lao government; call and data rates are similar and within agreed criteria to allow equitable revenue share between them. A starter pack normally costs 5,000 kip plus the preloaded credit. No ID necessary for purchase.

Buy refill cards for Lao mobiles in phone or roadside shops throughout the country. Validity usually equates to one day per 1,000 kip e.g. 10,000 kip refill extends expiry date by 10 days. Mobile recharge is possible also by ATM, but you may need a local credit card for it.

To check kip balance on a Lao mobile call 122 or send *122#. To identify a mobile phone SIM number, send *110# from the phone to display.

Unitel (StarPhone) Edit

Unitel

Unitel (a.k.a. StarPhone) is a joint venture between the Ministry of Defence of Vietnam through Viettel and the Lao PDR via Lao Asia Telecom/LAT/Star Telecom/StarPhone with Unitel as the brand name. Unitel seems to have the most customers in Laos right now, but suffers from congestion in the cities. Nevertheless, it claims to be "the best operator in Laos". 4G/LTE was officially launched in the capital Vientiane, as well as a number of other major cities and provinces, including Savannakhet, Luang Prabang and Champasak in 2015.

Voice & data SIM Edit

Their prepaid 3G and 4G SIMs are sold at their outlets for 10,000 kip with 5,000 balance on it. When you sucessfully register your information, you will be given another 10,000 kip. Default rate for data is 800 kip/MB on 2G/3G and 300 kip/MB on 4G. These data packages are available:

Time Date Price Activation
on 2G/3G network:
until 24h unlimited 10,000 kip *209*6#
24 hours 25 MB 1,000 kip *209*1#
60 MB 2,000 kip *209*2#
125 MB 5,000 kip *209*3#
30 days 270 MB 10,000 kip *209*4#
1.5 GB 50,000 kip *209*7#
3 GB 100,000 kip *209*8#
"unlimited" 120,000 kip *209*9#
on 4G/LTE too (only for 4G SIM cards):
24 hours 150 MB 5,000 kip *299*5#
7 days 450 MB 15,000 kip *299*15#
30 days 1.3 GB 50,000 kip *299*50#
3.5 GB 120,000 kip *299*120#
40 GB 1,000,000 kip *299*1000#

Package 9 (30 days, "unlimited") has a speed reduction to 256/128 kbps after using the first 4 GB. To cancel 3G bundles, type *209*01#​. For 4G bundles to unsubscribe, type *299*0#

Data-only SIM Edit

Unitel supplies a 3G HSDPA modem (not unlockable) and sold with their 3G data SIM called Sim Net (SIM alone costs 10,000 kip) with 300 MB. Data-only and SMS, no voice. When you sucessfully register your information, you will be given another 300 MB. Unitel download speeds are sometimes as slow as 1-2 Mbps, but 3-4 Mbps or more is still possible.

Refill cards are available from phone and small shops, while the data-only SIMs (need to be activated) are usually only sold at Unitel offices around the country. Data-only SIMs on 3G are different from mobile SIMs. Default rate is 300 kips per MB on 2G/3G and 60 kips per MB on 4G:

Time Date Price Activation
on 2G/3G network:
24 hours 1 GB 5,000 kip *209*21#
5 days 2 GB 10,000 kip *209*22#
7 days 1.5 MB 10,000 kip *209*23#
30 days 5.12 GB 50,000 kip *209*24#
12.888 GB 120,000 kip *209*25#
"unlimited" 230,000 kip *209*26#
on 4G/LTE too:
30 days 5 GB 50,000 kip *299*4*50#
12 GB 100,000 kip *299*4*100#
120 GB 900,000 kip *299*4*900#

To unsubscribe type *209*01# on 3G packages, *299*4*0# on 4G/LTE packages.

A Unitel monthly data plan runs from the 1st to the last day of the calendar month. A monthly plan can be started on any day, but it will end at midnight on the last day of that month. Cost and data is proportional e.g. start on 15th, cost and data allowance will be 50% of the full rate. 50% credit balance stays in the account and can be used for a new plan or to renew the same one (50% top-up would be needed to pay for a new full month). Note that an data plan on voice & data SIM can begin on any day. Free data remaining at the end of a plan period is removed.

At the end of the period, you need to (1) recharge; (2) send SMS LT0 (zero) to cancel the old plan; (3) send SMS LT<code> to start or renew the service.

If a plan expires and is not cancelled, future refill credit may be lost. At the beginning of a new period the account will show a debit balance until refilled with sufficient credit. The current plan will then continue. If for example it is a weekly plan and is not used in that week (perhaps the user left Laos temporarily), new credit will first be allocated to an expired period and effectively lost. This should not happen if you always send LT0 to cancel a plan when it has expired or the data has been used before the validity period ends.

More info Edit

  • If you have a problem, call Unitel customer service 109 or 021 999888; ask for someone who speaks English
  • APN: unitel3g
  • Website: partly in English: http://unitel.com.la

Lao Telecom (LTC, LaoTel) Edit

Lao telecom

LaoTel offers 3G access in most provinces' main towns. Lao Telecom 4G/LTE appeared first at the ASEM Summit in November 2013 and is now available in some areas of Vientiane, with 60 base stations covering the capital area and adjacent suburbs. But you better check if it's working making a network scan for 4G on 900 and 1800 MHz. Lao Telecom also offers WiFi at hotspots in Vientiane and some other areas. Speed claims up to 5 Mbps.

An English version of the Lao Telecom website exists now. If in Vientiane you visit LaoTel's Namphou office on Chanthakoummane Road or Saylom Head Office, you'll find (or can ask for) staff with reasonable English and technical skills and be able to get service details and subscription costs. However, LTC local and provincial office visits can be difficult for non-Lao speakers – much like the company's website.

Voice & data SIM Edit

Start up price is 5,000 kip or additionally the preloaded credit. Default rate is 300 kip per MB. These packages are available for 3G and 4G:

Time Date Price Activation
24 hours 25 MB 1,000 kip *118*5#
125 MB 5,000 kip *118*1#
30 days 250 MB 10,000 kip *118*2#
1.25 GB 50,000 kip *118*3#
2.5 GB 100,000 kip *118*4#

To activate 3G data, type *115*11# <call> for 4G data, type *115*22# <call>. To deactivate data, type *115*00# <call> and to check data comsumption *123#.

Data-only SIM Edit

3G/4G data-only SIMs called SIM Net are available separately at 30,000 kip and 40,000 kip for a MicroSIM. Only LTC has micro SIMs. They offer these packages on 3G and 4G/LTE:

  • 24 hours: 1 GB, 5,000 kip, activation: *131*5#
  • 7 days: 1.5 GB, 10,000 kip. activation: *131*10#
  • 30 days: 5 GB, 50,000 kip, activation: *131*6#

These bundles are hard-capped, so data is shut off. The following bundles are soft-capped, speed will be throttled to 384 kbps on 3G and 512 kbps on 4G:

  • 30 days: 15 GB, 150,000 kip, activation: *131*11#
  • 30 days: 30 GB, 250,000 kip, activation: *131*12#
    • add-on package: 5 GB, 50,000 kip, activation: *131*21#

Laotel data-only SIM refills can be carried out by a mobile phone: *121*<data SIM Number>*<Refill Card PIN Number># then <call>.

More info Edit

Beeline Edit

Beeline

Beeline (formerly known as Tigo and MilliCom) is mostly owned by Russian Vimpelcom and is the smallest operator in Laos. Beeline's 3G HSPA+ is available in Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Savannakhet. In reality, expect up to 5 Mbps; with lower speed phones or modems, downloads may be similar to LTC or ETL's 1-2 Mbps. Depending on location, Beeline offers the highest speeds in Laos. A Beeline 4G/LTE network has been announced for years now.

Note that the double up bonus for top-ups can not be used for data, only for text and voice in a limited time.

Voice and data SIM Edit

New Beeline SIMs have been introduced with the option of data-only use for USB modems. SIM cost 10,000 kip with 5,000 kip credit. Performance has decreased since launch, partly due to the activities of some greedy 'unlimited' plan users.

Time Date Price Activation
1 day 25 MB 1,000 kip D0
50 MB 2,500 kip D1
100 MB 4,000 kip D2
7 days 250 MB 10,000 kip W1
30 days 1229 MB 49,000 kip M1
2048 MB 80,000 kip M2
To activate, text code and send it to 234. On the D1 package you can add 500 kip for an additional 25 MB of internet. Once subscribed, automatic renewal applies when the package expires. Running out of the data before the package expires: Re-subscribe manually immediately to avoid 300 kip/MB overage.

To unsubscribe: Type "DER" <space> <activation code> and send it to 234. Check for data and validity: Type "C" and send to 234. SMS send to short code is free of charge.

Without a Beeline data pack, data cost is 300 kip per MB; this will quickly use up any remaining phone credit if the plan expires and there is not sufficient kip credit to renew it, so best to recharge before expiry. Send DER <plan code> to cancel the current plan before changing to a different one or if a data plan is no longer required. Then any credit or refill will be available for phone calls plus GPRS data at 100 kip/MB or 3G HSPA+ at 300 kip/MB.

Data-only SIM Edit

You can convert any voice & data SIM to a data-only SIM by booking one of these packs:

  • unlimited intenet for a day: 6,500 kip. Activation code: AD1 to 234
  • unlimited internet for a month: 150,000 kip. Activation code: AM1 to 234
  • 1.2 GB per day: 5,000 kip. Overuse: 300 kip/MB. Activation code: BD1 to 234

All packages autorenew. To stop, text "DER"<blank> <activation code> to 234.

Note that a Beeline SIM that has been converted to data-only for use with AD1 or AM1 plans cannot be changed back and used to make calls. Buy another SIM for 10,000 kip including 5,000 credit. A day is 0.00-24.00h local time.

More Info Edit

ETL Edit

ETL

ETL for Enterprise of Communications Laos has a limited 3G network in Laos. So check coverage on location first, before you buy a SIM card. SIMs cards are again for voice and data, data-only and unlimited data. Simple to use, limited-only data plans for days up to one month. Speeds are similar to Lao Telecom, but coverage is lower and no 4G/LTE yet.

Voice & data SIM Edit

Default rate outside of packages is 300 kip/MB. Their data packages are called "eNet" in up to 4 Mbits:

  • eN1: 1 day, 240 MB, 1,000 kip
  • eN5: 1 day, 800 MB, 5,000 kip
  • eN10: 7 days: 1.5 GB, 10,000 kip
  • eN50: 30 days, 5.5 GB, 50,000 kip
  • eN100: 30 days, 12 GB, 100,000 kip
  • eN200: 30 days, 30 GB, 200,000 kip
  • eN250: 30 days, unlimited, 250,000 kip

To activate text code e.g. eN5 to 333. Packages don't renew automatically. In shops the additionally offer their "eNet 2Teen" plan with unlimited data on a calendar day (0-24h) for 4,000 kip. To check data, send '122' to 333,

More info Edit

Planet Online Edit

Planet logo

Planet Online is a WIMAX provider, that is not compatible to GSM devices, even if its transmission is called 4G too. It only operates in a very limited area in Vientiane: Coverage Map. Their office can be found at 164 Samsenthai Road, Kaoyord Village, Sisattanak District, Vientiane

As you need to buy a new device and activate it on their network, this can only be an option, if you stay for longer in the capital. They offer:

  • a mobile WIMAX router for 400,000 kip
  • a mobile WIMAX MiFi hotspot router for 1,100,000 kip

These monthly plans are sold with max. speed of 10 Mbps:

  • 10 GB: 200,000 kip
  • 40 GB: 400,000 kip
  • 75 GB: 600,000 kip
  • 100 GB: 800,000 kip

Beyond quota, speed will be throttled to 128 kbps.

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