It’s said that the biggest fear one has it that of public peaking. For me, my biggest fear is not having cellular service, and not being able to connect while on the go.

So, how does one connect while in Laos

Some quick tips to staying connected while on the go:
Mobile phone usage in Laos has mushroomed, with four competing GSM operators. Two of these offer roaming services. Calling people on the same network is always cheaper than calling another network, but there is no clear market leader.

smart phone photo

Photo by okalkavan

 

Tourist and expats tend to prefer Tigo or M-phone (Laotel), while locals could have any of the four networks. Lao Telecom has agreements with some 30 international networks – see roaming with Lao Telecom . Beeline (formerly known as Tigo) has agreements with over 100 International phone networks – see roaming with Tigo . Another popular choice, they also have low-cost international rate of 2000 kip/minute to many countries, if you buy their SIM card and dial “177” instead of “+”. However, as of February 2009, Tigo’s coverage is still said to be poor away from larger towns.

ETL Mobile is known to have better coverage in rural and remote parts of Laos. However, in Laos “better” certainly does not mean “everywhere”. They appear to have low-cost international call service. Unitel or starphone (the old name of this network) is available too. Local prepaid SIM cards can be purchased in various shops and stores without any paperwork. But be aware that most networks, also including phone and fax traffic, are tapped by government order. As another option, there is Thai GSM coverage close to Thai border (including a significant part of Vientiane), and Thai SIM cards and top-up cards can be bought in Laos; in addition, DeeDial International Call Cards are available. Thus, if you already have Thai number, you can use (generally cheaper) Thai network and/or avoid buying one more SIM. However, beware – if you have a Thai SIM which has international roaming activated it will connect to a Lao network when the Thai network is not available, and the roaming charges will be significantly higher.

Other tips on staying connected while in Laos? Please add your comments and tips.