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Basics Edit

Nicaragua has now three network operators from 2016:

  • Claro (formerly Enitel, by Mexican América Móvil)
  • Movistar (by Spanish Telefónica)
  • CooTel (by Chinese Xinwei)

2G/GSM and 3G/HSPA+ is on 850 and 1900 MHz (except for CooTel see below), 4G/LTE has started on 1700 MHz (band 4) with Claro and 1900 MHz (band 2) with Movistar.

Network coverage and 2G/3G availability can vary according to region. Both companies have started 4G/LTE in 2015 in Managua and a few other places on different frequencies.

Claro has a clear lead in all of Nicaragua’s telecom sectors, including fixed-line, mobile, broadband and pay TV. The number of mobile subscribers overtook the number of fixed lines in early 2002, and as of early 2017 the mobile sector accounted for the significant majority of all lines in service.

Movistar is the only company competing with Claro in the fixed-line and mobile market. In the mobile sector, Movistar holds almost one third of the market, but in the fixed-line sector, it has only about 10% market share.

In 2016 a third mobile operator CooTel backed by China started with 3G on the AWS (1700/2100 MHz) frequency only, but uses an own technology, for which you need to buy a new device to use.

SIM cards of the two major providers are sold in many shops without showing your ID or any kind of registration so far. SIM cards are also available on both Little Corn Island and Big Corn Island. Claro seems to be the better network when you go to more remote places.

While Claro gives prices in C$ (Nicaraguan Cordoba), Movistar and CooTel give it in US$.

Claro Edit

Claro

Claro by América Móvil, formerly called Enitel, is the market leader in the country. It has good coverage and speed in Nicaragua. 2G/GSM is on 1900 MHz, 3G up to HSPA+ on 850 MHz. 4G/LTE has been started in 2015 on the 1700 MHz (AWS) frequency in Managua, Esteli, Leon and Matagalpa. To all prices below add 15% sales tax.

Availability Edit

Prepaid SIM cards are sold for C$ 50 all over the country and in their shops (list of shops).

For top-ups look for the Claro logo. Shops sell recharge cards in C$ 10-2500 giving 90 days of validity. Or top-up online through your personal profile or by Ezetop from abroad.

To check balance, type *55 or *812.

Data feature packages Edit

Default rate is quoted as C$ 5 per MB. These packages called Superpacks are offered:

Validity Data Price
1 day 100 MB C$ 20
2 days 150 MB C$ 30
3 days 300 MB C$ 50
5 days 500 MB C$ 80
7 days 750 MB C$ 110
1 GB C$ 130
15 days 1.5 GB C$ 230

For activation text code to 8833 or type *555# and choose option 1. Add 15% tax.

They also offer combo packs with local mins, SMS and data and social media packages for WhatsApp (VoIP included!), Waze, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and emails.

For data-only on modems, routers and tablets they have special packages available:

Time Data Price
12 hours 500 MB C$ 25
24 hours 1 GB C$ 50
7 days 3 GB C$ 250
30 days 1 GB C$ 400
5 GB C$ 700
8 GB C$ 900

Activation by texting code to 8833. Add 15% tax.

Roaming packages Edit

For roaming in the Claro networks of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama, these packages are offered:

  • 150 MB for 7 days : US$ 12
  • 300 MB for 15 days: US$ 20
  • 500 MB for 31 days: US$ 30

You need to activate these roaming packages online on your account. For roaming in Central America Movistar is the cheaper choice (see below).

More info Edit

  • APN (for modems): internet.ideasclaro.ni - username and password: internet
  • APN (for smartphones): web.emovil - username and password: web.emovil
  • Website in Spanish: http://www.claro.com.ni

Movistar Edit

Movistar-0

Movistar is the 2nd operator in the country with about 1/3 of the mobile market. It operates a hybrid non-GSM compatible CDMA network and 2G/GSM and 3G up to HSDPA on 850 and 1900 MHz. The coverage is a bit worse than Claro in rural areas, but rates for data are better and have taxes included.

4G/LTE has been started on 1900 MHz in Managua only in 2015 and has been extended to San Juan del Sur, Leon, Chinandega, Masaya, Granada, Esteli and Matagalpa in 2016/7 and about 50 cities in 2018.

Availability Edit

Their prepaid SIM card called Prepago Ful or Libre can be bought in their stores (locator).

Top-ups of C$ 29, 49, 99, 149 or 199 are sold all over the country. For all recharges you will receive some promotional credit too, that is valid for a much shorter time.

To check balance, dial *611 and options 2-1-2.

Data feature packages Edit

For data, you need to add one of their Smartpacks that include 4G/LTE::

Validity Data Price Extras Activation
1 day 75 MB C$ 15 WA NAV75
100 MB C$ 20 WA NAV100
2 days 150 MB C$ 30 WA NAV150
4 days 300 MB C$ 50 WA, FB, SC NAV300
7 days 700 MB C$ 110 WA, FB, SC NAV700
15 days 1.5 GB C$ 250 WA, FB, SC GB
30 days 2.5 GB C$ 500 WA, FB, SC GB2

For activation text code to 7000. Extras include WhatsApp (WA) without VoIP calls , Facebook (FB) and Snapchat (SC). Taxes are included.

They also offer Megapacks with included domestic voice, SMS and data.

American roaming option Edit

Movistar started its sin fronteras (without borders) option for regional roaming in Central America. You can roam on the Movistar networks in Venezuela, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama without any surcharges now using your domestic allowance.

More info Edit

CooTel Edit

CooTel

In 2016 CooTel started on the 3G frequency of 1700 MHz (AWS) only. There is no fall-back to 2G/GSM. It's backed by Chinese Xinwei that invested 200 million dollars in the country.

It's on 3G in a limited area so far. Its coverage comprises Managua, Ciudad Sandino, Tipitapa and Masaya, later in León, Granada, Carazo y Rivas too. For 2017/8 more areas are projected: Coverage map.

Right now, it can't be recommended to travellers, but may be a cheaper choice if you stay for longer and need data at a place where they have coverage.

Availability Edit

CooTel's devices don't use SIM cards. They need to be activated on their network. Phones ranging starting from US$ 10 to a MiFi for US$ 50 are offered. You can't bring your own device. You have to buy a new one at their stores (stores list).

Top-ups can be made there or in many other chain stores like Super Express or am:pm.

Data feature packages Edit

For data, they offer these packages at very low prices (taxes are included) and speeds up to 1.5 Mbps:

Data Time Price Activation
512 MB 7 days US$ 1 navega512
1 GB 30 days US$ 2 navega1
2 GB US$ 3.50 navega2
5 GB US$ 8 navega5
8 GB US$ 10 navega8
10 GB US$ 11.50 navega10
15 GB US$ 14 navega15
unlimited US$ 20 ojon588

Activation is by code to 161. Taxes are included.

More info Edit