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Zm

Basics Edit

Networks Edit

There are currently three national mobile operators in Zambia and another one on 4G/LTE only :

  • MTN
  • Airtel
  • Zamtel
  • Vodafone (on 4G/TD-LTE only)

In Zambia the 3 major networks operate on following frequencies: 2G/GSM up to EDGE on 900 MHz, 3G/UMTS up to DC-HSPA on 2100 MHz and 4G/LTE on 1800 MHz (B3) and 2600 MHz (B7). Due to the low quality of landlines, prepaid SIMs are to most Zambians the only way to get internet access.

At the end of 2016 a 4th operator was launched using the Vodafone brand, that has a limited 4G/LTE network on TD-LTE band 40/ 2300 MHz. In 2018 spectrum was given to another applicant called Unitel that is about to deploy a network soon.

SIM registration Edit

Since 2011 it's mandatory to register the SIM card. This means, you need to bring your passport and write down your hotel address. SIM card number and IMEI number will be recorded as well. To check the registration status of your SIM, dial *101#. A sample of a registration form can be found here. It's possible you may get approached to buy a pre-registered SIM card. This is illegal and the Zambian government is actively prosecuting those that sell pre-activated SIM cards. Also you may find your connection suddenly being disrupted, as the government is also actively encouraging the networks to switch off unregistered SIM cards. If the asking-price of a SIM card is without balance is more than 5 Kwacha, this should treated with suspicion. More info about SIM registration: ZICTA

MTNEdit

MTN

MTN is the largest network in Zambia. For data they claim download speeds of up to 42 Mbps. MTN started with rolling out its 4G/LTE network on 1800 MHz (B3) in 2014 and is available in Lusaka and some other larger population areas in Zambia (Coverage Map).

Availability Edit

SIM cards are available at so-called MTN Connect Stores, of which there is one at Kenneth Kuanda International Airport in Lusaka and cost 5 K. Data-only SIM cards are available too.

Vouchers are available from the same stores as well in retail stores.

To top-up dial *113*<voucher code>#. To check your balance dial *114#. If you are roaming in other countries with MTN you can buy a local voucher and top up dialling *222*<voucher code>#.

Tariff plans Edit

The default plan activated is MTN Call per Second. Other call plans are available as well. The default rate for data in all these plans is 1.05 K per MB. Access to Facebook is for free via 0.facebook.com.

A cheaper base plan called "Browse 4Eva" can be activated by dialling *340*2#. The rate of 1.05 K per MB will then be reduced to 0.03 K per MB when the initial 5 K has been reached. This reduced rate applies then to subsequent MB with a maximum of 1 GB per day.

Data feature packages Edit

MTN offers data bundles, that can be subscribed by dialling *335#. To receive settings send a blank message to 335. The user has the choice to select the validity for the data volume chosen and whether it should be a one-off or an auto-renewable bundle.

Volume Hourly Daily Weekly Monthly 60 days
5 MB 0.6 K
10 MB 1.1 K
20 MB 2.1 K 3.1 K
30 MB 4.2 K
50 MB 5.1 K 7.2 K
75 MB 21 K
150 MB 15.4 K 28 K 36 K
200 MB 31 K
300 MB 31 K 42 K 62 K
500 MB 12 K 52 K 103 K
1 GB 103 K 134 K
2 GB 144 K 190 K
3 GB 210 K
5 GB 325 K 415 K
6 GB 512 K
10 GB 680 K 718 K
20 GB 1180 K

MTN offers special data bundles for surfing in the weekend or at night. You can book them by dialling *335#:

Volume Night

(0-5am)

Weekend

(Sat/Sun)

Sunday

(24 hrs)

1.5 GB 7.68 K 102.5 K 10.25 K
4.5 GB 25.62 K 61.5 K 30.75 K
5.1 GB 35 K 205 K

Social media Edit

  • Facebook access is zero-rated via 0.facebook.com.
  • For WhatsApp a 24 hour bundle with 20 MB is offered for 3.15 K by *340*340#

Data roaming offers Edit

MTN offers three packages for roaming including data when visiting countries of the SADC (= Angola, Botswana, Congo (DR), Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South-Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zimbabwe). This can be practical when you visit a neighboring country for a few days or when you have not found a local prepaid card yet. To book a package, dial *211# and select SPAKA in the menu. A bundle lasts 30 days. Once booked, a bundle cannot be changed to another bundle.

  • Executive: 200 Kwacha offers you 100 MB of data, 65 minutes to Zambia, 25 minutes in the visiting country, 10 minutes to rest of world and 25 text messages
  • Executive pro: 500 Kwacha offers you 200 MB of data, 130 minutes to Zambia, 50 minutes in the visiting country, 20 minutes to rest of the world and 40 text messages
  • Executive Platinum: 1000 Kwacha offers you 500 MB of data, 320 minutes to Zambia, 130 minutes in the country you are visiting, 40 minutes to the rest of the world and 100 text messages.

Using their "Roam like home" plan, you can also surf for 2 K per MB in 16 MTN networks in Africa and the Middle East: list of countries.

More Information Edit

AirtelEdit

Airtel

The Indian-based company Bharti-Airtel took over activities from Celtel and Zain and is now #2 in the country close behind MTN. Airtel is present in all the 72 districts of Zambia with 200 towers all carrying what they call a 3.75G.

Having initially introduced 4G/LTE services in the Copperbelt in October 2017, Airtel Zambia official launched of its LTE network in the nation’s capital Lusaka. It has also revamped its entire range of data bundles to coincide with the latest launch announcement.

Availability Edit

SIM cards are available in their stores of which there is one at the arrivals at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport. A SIM will cost 5 K. Airtel is now offering 1 GB of data free to all those that do upgrade to an LTE-compatible SIM.

Top-up vouchers are available from retail stores. To top up, dial *113*<voucher code>#, to check your balance, dial *114#.

Data feature packs Edit

The standard rate for data is 1 K per MB. Data plans can be activated by dialling *575# or *121#. If a data plan is active, data will be charged at 0.65 K per MB in the remaining validity period once the allowance has been used. Following data packages are available:

Data 1 day 7 days 30 days 60 days 90 days
20 MB 3.1 K
30 MB 4.5 K
50 MB 7.2 K
100 MB 10.3 K 25 K
250 MB 25 K 36 K
500 MB 52 K
1 GB 103 K 134 K
2 GB 144 K 190 K
5 GB 325 K 415 K
10 GB 700 K 718 K
20 GB 1150 K
40 GB 2000 K

They offer a double volume bonus to all bundles. But bonus data are only valid for 1 hour after subscription. So for example for 10.3 K you get 100 MB for 1 hour and another 100 MB for 24 hours.

Social media bundles Edit

Social bundles allow either access to Facebook only or to Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, their VoIP will however be charged at standard data rate or charged to the data package. To activate a social plan dial *575*3#. Following bundles are available:

App

1 day 7 days 30 days
WhatsApp only 3 K 10 K 50 K
Facebook only 2 K 10 K 50 K
Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter 6 K 25 K 100 K

More information Edit

ZamtelEdit

Zamtel ZM-Logo

Zamtel launched its GSM services in 2003 and is government-owned. It's the smallest operator in Zambia and is reported to also be the least customer oriented. They launched 4G/LTE in 2014 in Kitwe only on 2600 MHz (B7) and current coverage of 4G/LTE beyond Kitwe is not known as coverage maps are not available. On OpenSignal maps it'S almost non-existant.

Availability Edit

The SIM cards are available from the Zamtel outlets, and should not cost more than 5 Kwacha. Topping up and checking your balance occurs by dialing *113#. Top-up vouchers are available starting 2 K and up from various places. Online Top-up is not available, you may need to use an external online top-up provider to keep your number alive.

Combo plans Edit

The Real Mahala plan is available to prepaid subscribers including data, on-net calls and unlimted on-net text messages. To subscribe, unsubscribe and to check allowance dial *335#. The Mahala plan comes in 3 sizes with the smallest also availabe for all-net calls

  • 3 Kwacha provides 100 MB of data, 60 minutes on-net calls and unlimited texting or 100 MB of data, 100 all-net texting and 11 minutes to all networks
  • 7 Kwacha provides 100 MB of data, 100 minutes on-net calls and unlimited texting
  • 100 Kwacha provides 1 GB of data, 2000 minutes on-net calls and unlimited texting

Data feature packs Edit

The standard rate is 0.96 Kwacha per MB. Following data bundles are available:

Data 24 hours 7 days 30 days 60 days 90 days Night
20 MB 2.79 K
50 MB 6.48 K
100 MB 9.27 K
250 MB 22.5 K
500 MB 46.8 K
1 GB 60.1 K 120.6 K 4.61 K
2 GB 129.6 K 171 K 9.23 K
5 GB 211.5 K 373.5 K 36.9 K
10 GB 612 K 646.2 K
20 GB 1062 K 715.68 K
40 GB 1150 K

To select a data bundle, dial *355#. When exceeding the bundle the accompanying pro-rata rate will be deducted during the remainder days. Night bundles are valid 10.30pm-5.30am.

Social media bundles Edit

For Facebook without using your internet balance, dial *325#

  • daily: K 0.32
  • weekly: K 1.60
  • monthly: K 5.34

For Twitter dial *515# to connect.

  • daily: K 0.30
  • weekly: K1.26
  • monthly: K5.22

More information Edit

Vodafone Zambia Edit

Vodafone

In 2016 Airspan Networks has started using the Vodafone brand, a joint venture between UK telecoms giant Vodafone and sub-Saharan Africa 4G operator Afrimax Group. They only provide data through their rather limited 4G/LTE network on TD-LTE band 40 at 2300 MHz: coverage map.

It's more marketed as an alternative to home internet access than a mobile solution. For travelling in the country, it can't be recommended yet, even if you have a compatible device, only if you have coverage at the location where you need it.

Availability Edit

Their SIM cards are sold at their few stores (locator) mostly together with a new phone, mifi, router or tablet as their frequency is rather rare in Africa. Voice transmission is made through VoLTE in certified phones. For topping up vouchers are sold or you can online on your Vodafone account to top-up by credit card.

Data packages Edit

Their default rate is not disclosed. So better add one of these packages:

Volume Daily Weekly Monthly
75 MB 9 K
250 MB 37 K
400 MB 45 K
500 MB 105 K
1 GB 110 K
2 GB 190 K
5 GB 245 K
10 GB 270 K
15 GB 390 K
25 GB 570 K
50 GB 1099 K
100 GB 1899 K
200 GB 3699 K
400 GB 7299 K

For social media special add-ons are sold:

  • weekly:
    • for WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat: 10 K
    • for Facebook: 15 K
  • monthly:
    • for WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat : 30 K
    • for Facebook: 50 K

Price is per app.

More information Edit