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Zambia

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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 on 900 (GPRSEDGE) 3G/UMTSDC-HSPA+ on 2100 MHzand 4G/LTE on 1800 and 2600 MHz. Due to the low quality of fixed-line coverage, 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.

SIM registration Edit

Since 2011 it is 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 is 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 their data they claim download speeds of up to 42 Mbps. MTN started with rolling out its LTE network on 1800 MHz in 2014 and is available in Lusaka and some other larger population areas in Zambia (Coverage Map).

Availability Edit

SIM cards are available at MTN Connect Stores, of which there is one at Kenneth Kuanda International Airport in Lusaka and cost 5 Kwacha. Vouchers are available from the same stores as well in retail stores. Data-only SIM cards are available too.

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>#.

Data-featured packages and deals 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.

Browse 4eva and WhatsApp bundle Edit

A cheaper data rate can be booked 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. The reduced rated applies then to subsequent MB's with a maximum of 1 GB per day.

A daily bundle with 20 MB and free WhatsApp exists for 3.15 K per day by dialling *340*340# or as recurring daily bundle by dialling *340*340*1#.

Data-only bundles 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 Daily Weekly Monthly 60 days
20 MB 3.15 K
75 MB 7 K 20 K
150 MB 15 K 27 K 35 K
300 MB 24 K 40 K 60 K
500 MB 50 K 100 K
1 GB 100 K 130 K
2 GB 140 K 185 K
3 GB 262.50 K
6 GB 498.75 K
10 GB 700 K
20 GB 1150 K

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

  • The weekend bundle is good from Saturday morning 01:00 until Sunday 23:59
  • The sunday bundles are only valid on Sundays at 00:01 until 23:59
  • The night bundles are usable between 00:00 and 05:00
Volume Night Weekend Sunday
1.5 GB 7.50 K 10 K
4.5 GB 25 K 60 K 30 K
6 GB 35 K

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 pre-paid 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 (UMTS). Besides the short-codes mentioned all services are also available by dialling *121#.

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. 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 Kwacha per MB.

Data-only Bundles Edit

Data plans can be activated by dialling *575#, *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 3.15 K
25 MB 4 K
50 MB 7 K
100 MB 10 K 25 K
250 MB 20 K 35 K 50 K
500 MB 50 K 100 K
1 GB 100 K 130 K
2 GB 140 K 185 K
5 GB 350 K
10 GB 700 K
20 GB 1150 K
40 GB 2000 K

Social Bundles Edit

The 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.

1 day 7 days 30 days
Facebook 2 K 10 K 50 K
Facebook, WhatsApp

and Twitter

4 K 20 K 100 K

Data Roaming Charges Edit

Airtel allows data roaming for its prepaid customers with the following expensive rates:

  • 3.50 K per MB in South Africa
  • 32 K per MB in other African countries
  • 62.50 K per MB in Europe
  • 94.50 K per MB in North and South America
  • 126.50 K per MB in Asia

The only exception to above is the "One Airtel" data-roaming. In countries with Airtel presence, the data is charged at 20.50 K per MB. There are currently no packages available for data-roaming.

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 in 2014 in Kitwe only on 2600 MHz and current coverage of 4G beyond Kitwe is not known as current coverage maps are not available.

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.

Real Mahala plan 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-only Bundles Edit

The standard rate is 0.94 Kwacha per MB. Following data bundles are available:

Volume Price

(Kwacha)

Validity Overuse

(K per MB)

20 MB 2.09 1 day 0.10
1 GB 49.00 7 days 0.94
10 MB 4.70 30 days 0.47
25 MB 10.45 30 days 0.42
50 MB 18.82 30 days 0.38
100 MB 31.36 30 days 0.28
250 MB 67.95 30 days 0.27
300 MB 75.27 30 days 0.25
500 MB 100.36 30 days 0.20
1 GB 120.23 30 days 0.12
1.5 GB 177.73 30 days 0.12
2 GB 185.95 30 days 0.09
4 GB 329.32 60 days 0.08
6 GB 470.45 60 days 0.08
10 GB 700.45 90 days 0.07
20 GB 815.45 90 days 0.04

To select a data bundle, dial *355#. When exceeding the bundle the accompanying pro-rata rate will be deducted during the remainder days.

Social Media Packages Edit

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

  • daily: K 0.31
  • weekly: K 1.57
  • monthly: K 5.27

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 7 K
200 MB 30 K
400 MB 40 K
500 MB 100 K
1 GB 100 K
2 GB 185 K
5 GB 230 K
10 GB 250 K
25 GB 550 K
50 GB 999 K
100 GB 1850 K

For social media special add-ons are sold:

  • weekly:
    • for WhatsApp: 10 K
    • for Facebook: 15 K
  • monthly:
    • for WhatsApp: 30 K
    • for Facebook: 50 K

More information Edit

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