The islands of French Polynesia (including Tahiti and Moorea) have three network operators right now:
- Vini S.A.S.
- Vodafone (Pacific Mobile Telecom)
A third player has only built up a 2G/4G network for its triple play portfolio, that doesn't offer prepaid, so it's not mentioned any further:
- Viti Ora
Vini is the clear market leader on the five archipelagos. It started in 1995 with 2G on 900 MHz and covers already 62 islands and 98% of population. Its 3G started in 2009 on 2100 MHz and is available in a limited area: 3G Coverage. 4G/LTE started with Vini in 2015 and started by Vodafone at the end of 2017.
In 2013 Pacific Mobile Telecom formed a partnership with Vodafone. So they sell their 2G and 3G on 900 MHz and now 4G/LTE under the brand name of Vodafone, but their coverage is much lower than Vini's.
For buying a SIM card you need to present an ID card, passport or a driving licence.
Vini S.A.S. is owned by the state-backed Office des Postes et Telecommunications (OPT) and is the principal provider in the country. 2G/EDGE is on 900 MHz. 3G/HSPA+ is on 900 and 2100 MHz. 4G/LTE started in 2015 on 800 and 2600 MHz bands (7, 20): 3G/4G coverage maps. Note that 4G/LTE currently is not yet available for prepaid.
The starter packs are sold at their stores and outlets:
- Vinipack Sales Points
- There are outlets at Papeete Faa airport but opening times are limited: Mon-Fri 7:30-18:00, Sat 7:30-13:00, Sun 7:30-12:00
- Post office OPT sells them but staff is incompetent, so tell them the exact offer you want.
Starter pack is available in two varieties:
- Vinicard: 850 F with 800 F credit which is good for 27 domestic mins, 80 domestic SMS or 160 MB data. After card activation another 200 F good for 20 SMS or 40 MB are given as bonus.
- Vinicard Xtra: 1750 F with 40 donestic mins and 120 domestic SMS, but no data included
The regular Vinicard should be better for data users.
Recharge vouchers are available there for 500, 1000 and 2000 F. Credit will be valid for 3 months after the 500 F recharge and 6 months after the 1000 F or 2000 F recharges.
You can also recharge online in client area with CB/Visa/MasterCard/AmEx.
Every vinicard recharge gives 20% bonus. The bonus both from activation and refill can be used for SMS and data but not calls.
Check credit by texting 'conso' to 7100 or use their ViniConso app
Data feature packs
Default data rate has been lowered to 5 F per MB on both cards. You will always stick to this default rate and no 4G/LTE. A 500 F top-up gives you 100 MB, 1000 F gives 200 MB and 200 F gives 400 MB.
There are packages with 10 MB for 100 F or 50 MB for 350 F that don't make sense anymore.
Their data-only card is called Internet Mobile Prépayé. You can't use it for voice and you can only have data and SMS. The start-up price for the data SIM is 2050 F pre-loaded with 500 MB valid for 30 days. It's sold in these stores: Vini Internet Mobile Sales Points. Recharges must be made within 30 days to keep the SIM alive. Data rate stays on 5 F per MB without 4G/LTE access so far and you can recharge with these vouchers:
- 100 MB for 15 days: 500 F
- 200 MB for 30 days: 1000 F
- 400 MB for 30 days: 2000 F
Each voucher has a 14-digit code. This must be sent to 7010. You may put it a mobile phone for that. You may have to send "GO" to 7010 to get the service started at all. To check data balance text 'conso' to 7100, as you don't get a warning SMS, if you are low on credit.
- APN: internet
- Website in French: http://www.vini.pf/
Vodafone (by Pacific Mobile Telecom)
Since 2013 Pacific Mobile Telecom sells its products under the brand name of Vodafone. If you travel within the archipelago, Vini may be the better choice.
Vodafone is slowly getting better 3G/4G coverage now, but is's still not as good as Vini's. Better make a network scan before you buy a starter kit. 4G/LTE has started at the end of 2017 and is already marketed as "4.5G".
2G and 3G are on 900 MHz. 4G/LTE is on 800 and 2100 MHz (bands 1 and 20).
They sell two starter packs in their stores (list).
- VodaCard 650: 650 F with 56 MB and another 50 MB bonus when you top-up 200 F or more
- Vodafone Brad: 1500 F with 84 MB and another 50 MB bonus when you top-up 200 F or more
The two plans have slightly different rates for voice and bonuses, but the same rate for data.
SIM plan stays valid for one year after the last reload. The credit validity depends on the top-up value.
Recharge coupons are available for 200, 500 F, 1000 F valid for 30 days, 2000 F valid for 75 days and 5000 F valid for 90 days. To check data balance dial *1122#, you will get SMS in return.
Data feature packages
Default data rate is 11 F per MB on all prepaid plans. All data use stays on this rate. So a recharge of 500 F gives 45 MB, of 1000 F 90 MB and so on.
Additionally, they sell a once-off data-only SIM card/pack called Internet Mobile Prepayé in their shops: They charge 5 F per MB when you open the line, going down to 3 F per MB from the 1st top-up on. They advertise with these prices based on the 3 F per MB rate:
- 500 MB: 1,950 F
- 1 GB: 3,450 F
In 2017 they introduced a Tourist SIM for visitors. It's sold for 5,000 F and contains 3 GB data, 30 mins of local calls and 30 mins of international calls valid for 15 days. It's sold at the airport and in some of their stores which is quite a good deal.
- APN: any (e.g. internet)
- Website in French: http://www.vodafone.pf/index.php