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Palau

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Basics Edit

Palau, officially the Republic of Palau, is an island country located in the Western Pacific Ocean. The country contains approximately 250 islands. It shares maritime boundaries with Indonesia, the Philippines, and the Federated States of Micronesia.

Palau relies solely on satellite technology for internet access. The mobile network is only available on the main islands. This makes data speeds very slow and quite expensive. A submarine cable link to Guam is planned, but not operative yet.

In Palau there is only one mobile operator:

  • PNCC with its mobile brand PalauCel and internet provider PalauNet

Many foreign phones set up for global roaming won't work in Palau, because PNCC doesn't have roaming agreements with most foreign operators.

The mobile network on the islands is supplemented by public WiFi hotspots operated by the two internet providers PNCC/PalauNet and Palau Telecoms. They both sell prepaid airtime for their WiFi hotspot access and are mentioned at the bottom of this article.

PalauCel by PNCCEdit

PNCC

PNCC for Palau National Communications Corp. is the only mobile operator in Palau. Their mobile wireless service is branded as PalauCel.

It operates a network on 2G/GSM 900 MHz and since 2014 3G/UMTS on 900 MHz too. 3G/UMTS on 900 MHz is not so common, check that your phone supports it.

Coverage extends throughout Palau including Rock Islands. Koror is served by digital antennas in Ngermid, Meyuns, Malakal, and at the Surangel’s building. Other cell sites are in Airai, Melekeok, Ngarchelong, Ngardmau, Ngaraard and Peleliu. Additional sites are installed to enable full coverage from Kayangel to Angaur.

3G and 2G/EDGE data service covers most areas of Koror, Airai, Melekeok and Peleliu. All other areas have 2G coverage for voice calls & text messages only. So far even on 3G, speeds are still slow and way below 1 Mbps, more likely some hundred kbps only.

Availability Edit

SIM cards are sold at PNCC offices in Koror (across the post office) and Airai at business hours Mon-Fri 8am-4:30pm. SIM is sold for US$ 55 with US$ 10 airtime. Now they have a promotion and it's reduced to US$ 35 until further notice.

Refill cards called GSM mobile airtime cards are available there and at more then 100 local stores.

Recharges of over US$ 10 give a validity period of 30 days. US$ 25 of 60 days and US$ 50 and initial activation give 90 days. After that the service is suspended and after further 90 days fully terminated.

To check remaining balance or for available plans and activation codes, dial *500#.

Data feature packages Edit

Default data rate is pricey US$ 0.15 per MB (= US$ 150 per GB). So make sure to activate a package. Their packages don't auto-renew, so you need to get a new one before the old one expires or used up.

Following packages are offered:

Price Validity Data Activation
US$ 49.90 30 days 1 GB *400*1#
US$ 15 7 days 250 MB *400*2#
US$ 3 1 day (until 4:00am) 50 MB *400*3#

Packages expire when data quota is used up or plan period ends, whichever comes first (no rollover of unused data). When package has expired, continued data usage will be charged at the default rate of 15¢ per MB. You may sign up for any new data plan as soon as your plan ends.

More information Edit

WiFi Hotspots Edit

PalauNet by PNCC Edit

PNCC also operates mobile WiFi hotspots throughout the islands to connect your tablet, smartphone or laptop by WiFi. There are about 50 locations (listed here) in public buildings, restaurants, hotels and stores.

To connect to the hotspot, you need to buy a PNCC Prepaid Internet Card available at certain sales locations (mentioned here). Mobile network top-up cards don't work for their WiFi.

To login turn on your WiFi and select PNCC Wireless Hotspot, then open your web browser and type any website in the address bar. Wait for redirection to the login page and then create or login by entering your user ID and password and minimize this login page to keep the session alive.

They offer two packages for WiFi access:

  • US$ 5 for 2 hours
  • US$ 10 for 4 hours

Sessions can be ended anytime and resumed later. Speed is up to 512 kbit/s upload and 128 kbit/s download only to give you an impression what you can expect.

Palau Telecoms Edit

The only other internet provider in Palau called Palau Telecoms manages public WiFi hotspots on the islands too. They are located mostly in hotels and restaurants and are called PTHOTSPOT. Logon is similar to PNCC's hotspots described above.

They have recently accelerated speeds and lowered prices. The prepaid internet card of Palau Telecoms is available in many stores throughout the islands. PNCC cards don't work on their hotspots. They are sold at:

  • US$ 10 for 10 hours

So they are somewhat cheaper than PNCC's offer while speeds are reported to be slightly higher. But their speed is still below below 1 Mbps at all locations. Don't expect to be able to stream videos or load large files.

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