Cocos (Keeling) Islands, also called Cocos Islands are an overseas territory of Australia. This group of islands is located in the Indian ocean midway between Australia and Sri Lanka. Around 600 inhabitants live on 14 km2. This is not be confused with the Cocos Islands off the coast of Costa Rica or the Coco Islands that are part of Myanmar.
In the Cocos or Keeling Islands there is one mobile network operator:
It operates a 2G/GSM-only network without any data service on an unknown frequency, most likely 900 MHz. Also they have no roaming, not even with Australian operators. So your SIM card from out of the islands probably won't work here.
There is also a network of a few WiFi hotspots, but don't expect it to be fast as up until recently a mere 2 Mbps satellite backhaul was shared by the 600 residents. The situation may get better with SkyMuster NBN rollout in the future.
nbn SkyMuster satellite service
In 2017 the nbn SkyMuster satellite service started on the Cocos islands. It delivers the broadband access to homes and businesses in regional and remote Australia via two state-of-the-art satellites. This usually involves the installation of a satellite dish, a modem and a power supply in a private home or business free of charge. Typically speeds of 8-20 Mbps are reached. In the Cocos Islands the IOTT markets access for business and private people.
GSM phone network
IOTT for Indian Ocean Territories Telecom PTY Ltd. used to be the only network on the island. They offer 2G/GSM only and don't offer any roaming services.
The SIMs are available from their Community Resource Centre (CRC) on West Island, colocated with tourism info, open Mon-Fri: 8am-3pm, Sat: 10am-3pm. Pre-booking is recommended. They can also arrange delivery to your accommodation to be there for your arrival. For more info check their info sheet. They also offer basic phone hire and WiFi vouchers (see next section).
Warning: Again, you won't get any data with this SIM, but it can be still useful for voice calls and SMS. For most of 2018 the local phone system was down (see here). It's unknown, if it has been reinstalled. Better check locally, before you buy any vouchers.
IOTT also markets the new plans for the nbn SkyMuster link. This requires some installations and can't be accessed by visitors. Plans rage in speed from 12 to 25 Mbit/s and from 25 GB for AU$ 35 per month to 300 GB for AU$ 155.
- IOTT website: http://cocos.cc/
- IOTT rates and availability: http://cocos.cc/mobiles.html
- IOTT nbn SkyMuster plans: http://nbn.iott.cc/
- CRC website: http://www.cocos.crc.net.au
- CRC info sheet: http://www.cocos.crc.net.au/uploads/5/6/1/5/56151227/pre-booking_wifi_mobiles.pdf
WiFi vouchers (by CRC)
The Community Resource Centre (CRC) sells WiFi vouchers for hotspots around the islands. All vouchers are for a single device only and are per time, not per volume. Remember that internet used to be quite slow, so don't expect to do much in 10 minutes. The vouchers are in following denominations:
- 1 hour for AU$ 6.95
- 3 hours for AU$: 9.95
- 1 day for AU$ 19.95
- 1 week for AU$ 64.95
Vouchers are sold at CRC on West Island, colocated with tourism info, open Mon-Fri 8am-3pm, Sat 10am-3pm. Pre-booking is recommended. They can also arrange your vouchers to be delivered at your accommodation before you arrive. For more info see their info sheet.
WiFi hotspots are available at the Cocos (Keeling) Islands Community Resource Centre, Maxie’s By The Sea, Cocos Club, Cocos Cottages, Cocos Beach Motel, Cocos Village Bungalows, Cocos Castaway, My Island Home, The Donga and the main shelter on Direction Island.
- Website: http://www.cocos.crc.net.au
- WiFi hotspot information: http://www.cocos.crc.net.au/uploads/5/6/1/5/56151227/pre-booking_wifi_mobiles.pdf