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Tip: Mobile phones and prepaid services in Vanuatu

Sydney, Australia
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Tip: Mobile phones and prepaid services in Vanuatu

Vanuatu has two providers of GSM-class mobile services.

SIM cards (prepaid) are abundantly available in Vila.

eg Bon Marche supermarkets and numerous agents around the place. Couldn't get a rate card out of the girl (she genuinely didn't know and didnt have any..but that's Vila for you :-) ) but I had already checked the rates online.

Vanuatu locals have definitely embraced the mobile phone revolution.

Even out in the villages..casually swinging a machete whilst on the phone having a yarn.

Is it cheap? Yes! You will find it useful for anything from booking taxis/drivers/restaurants/ rentals and events.

I bought a 500 VT card (about AUD six bucks) and that lasted easily a week. Calls are billed per sec, no flag fall and no minimum charge per call...puts all Australian operators to shame for price.

Even calling back to Australia was cheap! But don't expect data services (at least on prepaid).

TIP: Before you leave home, ensure your GSM is unlocked. You can also just buy a cheap phone in Vila.

Campbelltown...
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1. Re: Tip: Mobile phones and prepaid services in Vanuatu

We were there last november and we couldnt believe how phone crazy they had all gone. A mobile even worked all the way out at lonnoc beach!!

As alxr said, make sure your gsm is unlocked. My phone was locked to vodafone and i couldnt put any other sim card into it. I will be more wiser this time

Jody

Melbourne
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2. Re: Tip: Mobile phones and prepaid services in Vanuatu

Great tips - I agree - we couldn't believe how cheap international calling and SMS rates were (to Australia) - definitely recommend tourists do a SIM swap there rather than relying on overpriced roaming rates.

Sydney, Australia
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3. Re: Tip: Mobile phones and prepaid services in Vanuatu

Also check out the Air Vanuatu inflight magazine. There is (or was) a 25% discount (or 25% bonus) for tourists presenting the voucher. Cant recall..that may be for recharges and not the SIM.

My Bon Marche agent was stretched enough dealing with the concept that calls cost a certain amount per minute so I decided not to tempt confusion by presenting a voucher.

** SIMS on plane

1000 VT (AUD12) prepaid sims also avail onboard "duty free" shopping. Perfect for stepping out and switching on.

** ROAMING.

Despite having a postpaid and international roaming agreement with Virgin mobile, switching on in Vila did not get me onto being roaming-accepted with either carrier, despite manually selecting each carrier. Result: no incoming SMS from home.

Would I waste my time contacting Virgin's notoriously bad call centre ? Hell no! I want to enjoy my island time!

So another thing to check before leaving.

1) confirm your account can roam to Vanuatu with your service provider.

2) set a PIN and sort out what Australian number to call and the procedure to retrieve your voicemail.

Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: Tip: Mobile phones and prepaid services in Vanuatu

Thanks so much for all that valuable information. We fly out next week

( can't believe it!!!)...first to Santo...so we will purchase one there. Have you been able to calculate the approx. rate of calls?

Melbourne
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5. Re: Tip: Mobile phones and prepaid services in Vanuatu

Not sure about Santo, but I know if you sign up for a SIM in Vila, you're given a little brochure with call/SMS rate info (including international rates). I'd assume this would be a universal arrangement. Off the top of my head I honestly can't remember rates, but do know that I spent around $15 on the SIM and called Australia twice and SMSed multiple times - I still had a fair bit of credit on it at the end of the trip too....

Sydney, Australia
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6. Re: Tip: Mobile phones and prepaid services in Vanuatu

TVL http://www.tvl.vu/prepaid.html

Digicel digicelvanuatu.com/en/…flex_tariffs

Both around 35 AUD cents per minute (charged per SECOND, no flag fall).

Calls to Australia are only about 60 cents AUD per minute..billed per sec/no flag fall. Forgot what the codes are for checking balance but it'll be in the guide supplied with the kit or ask any street-side agent to show you.

shame on Optus/Virgin/Telstra/Voda...shame shame shame.

Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: Tip: Mobile phones and prepaid services in Vanuatu

I contacted Digicel and received the following information:

Digicel to Digicel 27vt/min

Digicel to Fixed (Landline) 27vt/min

Digicel to TVL Smile Mobile 27vt/min

Digicel to 123 (Customer Care) 0.00

Sending SMS;

Local SMS 8vt

International SMS 12vt

A Sim card will cost 500vt.

Calling Australia using this Sim card will cost you;

Prepaid

Peak Off Peak + Weekend

VT 50 VT 40

Note;

· · Peak Hours : 6am – 8pm

· · Off peak Hours: after 8:01pm – 5:59am

You can purchase the Sim Card in our Digicel Shop In town (Santo).

Hope this helps.

New Zealand
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8. Re: Tip: Mobile phones and prepaid services in Vanuatu

The people at the TVL Smile booth in the Vila market were lovely, and checked that the SIM card worked before I paid for it. I just got the 500vt one, and that was plenty for the various local calls I made while I was there.

Sydney, Australia
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9. Re: Tip: Mobile phones and prepaid services in Vanuatu

What does it mean" ensure that GSM is unlocked"? We're leaving tomorrow so HELP!!! as we want to get a sim card.

Sydney, Australia
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10. Re: Tip: Mobile phones and prepaid services in Vanuatu

"ensure GSM" unlocked....

definition of "locked" GSM phone: The carrier has provided you the phone on a plan or prepaid. The carrier restricts the phone from being used on other networks by "locking" the phone to only using SIM cards for their network.

The phone can be unlocked by obtaining the unlock code from the carrier. This may require a fee or may be free if you have been with the same carrier for some time.

1. Do you have a prepaid or post paid mobile phone ?

2. Has the carrier "locked" it to only the SIM card supplied with it or to only be able to use SIMS from the same network?

3. If you bought the phone "outright" it generally is not locked and can use a SIM from any carrier.

4. Even if your phone is locked to a network, some carriers will unlock it (they provide you a number and you type that into the keypad in a special coded sequence.).

If all else fails, just buy a cheap phone in Vanuatu or duty free on the way out although do your homework on what is good value. Selling at a RRP of several months ago is probably not representative of current "street" prices.