Malawi has basically two major operators:
There are other small operators who don't have a reasonable coverage. 2G is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G on 2100 MHz and 900 MHz on airtel. 4G/LTE has started on TMN, but not yet commercially available for prepaid.
Speed and coverage are pretty modest even for African standards. TMN and airtel actually form a duoply in the country. This led to public protest and even demonstrations on the streets against the two companies in 2015. The national regulator is under pressure to lower prices, improve service or release another license. Because of high cross-network rates, many Malawians have two SIM cards, yet the general mobile penetration rate remains very low at 20% only.
The BBC published a report by the Internatl. Telecommunications Union (ITU) in 2015. Malawians use more than 5,000 K or $12 per month on average for mobile phones. That's 56% of the average monthly income making it one of the most expensive countries in the world for local people to use mobile phones.
For 2015 the governement planned a mandatory SIM card registration scheme to be enforced. So you might need to show your ID for a SIM card purchase in the future.
airtelEditcoverage list). In 2017 airtel announced a major upgrade to its network and adding 900 MHz 3G.
You get their SIM cards everywhere on the streets and in their shops (Store locator). Normally standard SIMs are sold and other sizes ned to be cut. Top-up vouchers are sold all over the country for MK50, MK100, MK250, MK500, MK1000 and MK5000.
Data feature packsEdit
Default data rate outside of packages is K 29.9 per MB.
|10 MB||1 day||K 50|
|30 MB||1 day||K 100|
|50 MB||7 days||K 225|
|1 GB||7 days||K 1650|
|500 MB||30 days||K 2550|
|1 GB||30 days||K 3850|
|2 GB||30 days||K 4800|
|4 GB||30 days||K 6600|
|6 GB||30 days||K 9800|
|8 GB||30 days||K 12000|
|20 GB||30 days||K 20500|
Activation is by typing *301# <call> and choosing the appropriate package. For social media, they offer bundles for Facebook and WhatsApp and special night bundles too:
- Facebook bundle:
- day, 50 MB: K 90 - activation: *301*40#
- week, 115 MB: K 200 - activation: *301*400#
- month, 800 MB: K 1000 - activation: *301*950#
- WhatsApp bundle:
- day, 30 MB: K 60 - activation: *301*60#
- week, 115 MB, K 200 - activation: *301*250#
- month, 450 MB, K 500 - activation: *301*600#
- Night Bundles (only valid midnight to 5am):
- 1 night, 40 MB: K 40
- 7 nights, 200 MB, K 200
- 30 nights, 1 GB, K 950
Activation of night bundles is by *301# and balance check by *304#.
- APN: internet
- Website: http://africa.airtel.com/wps/wcm/connect/africarevamp/Malawi/
TNMEditTNM (for Telekom Networks Malawi) is a private local company. They were the first to offer 3G in the country and are considered to be the better choice for data. Together with Airtel they share the market in the country at slightly lower rates: 2G/3G Coverage map.
4G/LTE started in June 2016 as first operator and is now available in the 4 major cities of Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu and Zomba. TNM is on track to expand the service to the rest of the country by December. The service is initially only offered with the TNM Hotspot for subscribers, not for prepaid.
Starter sets with SIM cards are available practically everywhere on the streets and in their outlets (list). Often only standard SIM cards are sold, other sizes need to be cut. Their starter packs is for K 500 and comes with 5 mins, 5 SMS and 5 MB.
Top-up vouchers are sold everywhere. Balance check is #123# <call>. To top up type *111*<voucher PIN># <call>.
Data feature packsEdit
Default rate for data outside of packages is K 0.024 per KB or K 25 per MB. Their packages for data are called Smart Surf:
|10 MB||1 day||K 55||*200*7#|
|30 MB||1 day||K 99||*200*9#|
|1 GB||1 day||K 1100||*200*5#|
|50 MB||7 days||K 220||*200*77#|
|1 GB||7 days||K 1650||*200*55#|
|100 MB||15 days||K 600||*200*10#|
|512 MB||30 days||K 2200||*200*11#|
|1 GB||30 days||K 3850||*200*12#|
|2 GB||30 days||K 4500||*200*13#|
|4 GB||30 days||K 6400||*200*14#|
|10 GB||30 days||K 15000||*200*16#|
|20 GB||30 days||K 20480||*200*17#|
For social media access TNM sells these bundles:
- Facebook Bundle:
- daily, 50 MB, K 90 - activation: *200*2#
- weekly, 120 MB, K 200 - activation: *200*22#
- 20 days, 1 GB, K 1000 - activation: *200*222#
- WhatsApp Bundle:
- daily, 30 MB: K 60 - activation: *200*3#
- weekly, 120 MB: K 200 - activation: *200*33#
- monthly, 500 MB: K 500 - activation: *200*333#
- APN: internet
- Website: http://www.tnm.co.mw