- 2 Basics
- 3 Unitel (formerly StarPhone)
- 4 Lao Telecom (LTC, LaoTel)(ລາວໂທລະຄົມ)
- 5 TPlus (previously Beeline)
- 6 ETL
- 7 Planet Online
Laos has 4 GSM network operators:
- TPlus (formerly Beeline)
A 5th company called Planet online uses incompatible WiMAX standard in Vientiane only and is mentioned at the end of the list.
Frequencies and coverage
Note that internet services in Laos, although improved from 2011 had generally become slower by early 2014, probably due to international bandwidth limitations and local congestion. Tourists and others on the move are unlikely to be impressed as speed is somewhat slower than in neighbouring countries while higher quality connections are available to those living close to Vientiane capital.
2G/GSM is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G/UMTS is on 2100 MHz up to HSPA+. 4G/LTE is said to have started on Laotel, Unitel and possibly TPlus on 900 and 1800 MHz (Bands 8 and 3) in Vientiane and other cities, but is sometimes not so reliable.
Outside the capital and main cities, where Beeline and Unitel are faster than Laotel or ETL, choice of the best mobile internet service depends on operator coverage which varies between provinces. Unitel now covers most of Laos and is possibly faster than LaoTel or ETL. It's wise to carry several SIMs especially for the Laos northern provinces as they are cheap to buy.
For all providers
All 4 mobile telecom operators are partly or fully owned by the Lao government; call and data rates are similar and within agreed criteria to allow equitable revenue share between them. A starter pack normally costs 5,000 kip plus the preloaded credit. There is no ID necessary for purchase.
Buy refill cards for Lao mobiles in phone or roadside shops throughout the country. Validity usually equates to one day per 1,000 kip e.g. 10,000 kip refill extends expiry date by 10 days. Mobile recharge is possible also by ATM, but you may need a local ATM/debit card for it.
To check kip balance on a Lao mobile call 122 or send *122#. To identify a mobile phone SIM number, send *110# from the phone to show up.
Unitel (formerly StarPhone)
Unitel (formerly known as StarPhone) is a joint venture between Viettel owned by the Ministry of Defense of Vietnam and the Lao PDR with Unitel as brand. Unitel seems to have the most customers in Laos right now, but may suffer from some congestion in the cities.
Nevertheless, it claims to be "the best operator in Laos" with a coverage of 97%. 4G/LTE was officially launched in the capital Vientiane in 2015 and has spread to a number of other major cities and provinces, including Savannakhet, Luang Prabang and Champasak making it the biggest 4G/LTE network in the country.
Note that old 3G SIMs differ from 4G SIMs and don't include 4G access.
Voice & data SIM
Their prepaid 3G and 4G SIMs are sold at their outlets (store locator) for 10,000 kip with 5,000 kip and 200 MB balance on it. When you successfully register your ID information, you will be given 1 GB of data valid for 7 days and another 10,000 kip. Default rate for data is 300 kip/MB. These data packages are available for their 2G/3G/4G network:
|24 hours||25 MB||1,000 kip||*209*1#|
|60 MB||2,000 kip||*209*2#|
|125 MB||5,000 kip||*209*3#|
|30 days||270 MB||10,000 kip||*209*4#|
|1.5 GB||50,000 kip||*209*7#|
|3 GB||100,000 kip||*209*8#|
|4 GB||120,000 kip||*209*9#|
Daily packages will have the default rate for overuse, monthly packs will be cut off. To cancel bundles, type *209*0#.
In addition to the above, there are two "combo" packages which come with unlimited WeChat/PUBG data as well as IDD minutes to China:
- 7 days: 1.25 GB and 10 IDD minutes for 50,000 kip, activation: *209*71#
- 30 days: 5 GB and 50 IDD minutes for 169,000 kip, activation: *209*72#
Unitel supplies a Net SIM for 10,000 kip with 300 MB with data-only and SMS, no voice. When you sucessfully register your information, you will be given another 1 GB valid for 30 days and an additional 1 GB valid for the first 7 days of each of the following two months. Unitel download speeds are sometimes as slow as 1-2 Mbps, but 3-4 Mbps or more is still possible.
Refill cards are available from phone and small shops, while the data-only Net SIMs (need to be activated) are usually only sold at Unitel offices around the country. Net SIMs are different from mobile SIMs. Default rate is 300 kips per MB and these packages are offered:
|24 hours||1.24 MB||5,000 kip||*209*21#|
|2 days||6 GB||10,000 kip||*209*30#|
|3 days||5 GB||10,000 kip||*209*33#|
|5 days||2 GB||10,000 kip||*203*22#|
|7 days||1.5 GB||10,000 kip||*209*23#|
|30 days||5 GB||50,000 kip||*209*24#|
|12 GB||120,000 kip||*209*25#|
|30 GB||200,000 kip||*209*32#|
|70 GB||300,000 kip||*209*28#|
To unsubscribe type *209*0#. To get package information, send H via SMS to 209.
A Unitel monthly data plan runs from the 1st to the last day of the calendar month. A monthly plan can be started on any day, but it will end at midnight on the last day of that month. Cost and data is proportional e.g. start on 15th, cost and data allowance will be 50% of the full rate. 50% credit balance stays in the account and can be used for a new plan or to renew the same one (50% top-up would be needed to pay for a new full month). Note that an data plan on voice & data SIM can begin on any day. Free data remaining at the end of a plan period is removed.
At the end of the period, you need to (1) recharge; (2) send SMS LT0 (zero) to cancel the old plan; (3) send SMS LT<code> to start or renew the service.
If a plan expires and is not cancelled, future refill credit may be lost. At the beginning of a new period the account will show a debit balance until refilled with sufficient credit. The current plan will then continue. If for example it is a weekly plan and is not used in that week (perhaps the user left Laos temporarily), new credit will first be allocated to an expired period and effectively lost. This should not happen if you always send LT0 to cancel a plan when it has expired or the data has been used before the validity period ends.
There are two sets of app-specific packages, one offering unlimited Facebook and another for unlimited YouTube:
Facebook (for all SIMs):
- 1 day for 3,000 kip, activation: *208*10#
- 3 days for 7,000 kip, activation: *208*11#
- 7 days for 15,000 kip, activation: *208*12#
- 30 days for 39,000 kip, activation: *208*13#
- 3 days for 7,000 kip (Net SIM), activation: *208*16#
- 3 days for 10,000 kip (voice SIM), activation: *208*17#
- 30 days for 120,000 kip (all SIMs), activation: *208*2#
Unitel requires your ID (such as passport) to be registered to your SIM to enable data roaming. Once enabled, data roaming in Vietnam (Viettel), Cambodia (Metfone), and Myanmar (Mytel) is available for a relatively low 80 kip per MB. In addition, they offer three packages valid on AIS, dtac, or True in Thailand by sending the following codes to 117:
- 6,000 kip for 150 MB for 1 day, activation: IR6
- 15,000 kip for unlimited data for 1 day, activation: IRU15
- 35,000 kip for unlimited data for 3 days, activation: IRU35
Overuse or usage after expiration of an unlimited package is at 40 kip per MB. Be aware that not selecting the correct operator in the first three countries mentioned above will result in much higher rates of over 11,000 kip per MB. This is not a problem in Thailand as Unitel does not roam at all on CAT (Thailand's fourth network operator).
- APN: unitel3g
- Website in English: http://unitel.com.la
Lao Telecom (LTC, LaoTel)(ລາວໂທລະຄົມ)
LaoTel offers 3G access in most provinces. Lao Telecom 4G/LTE appeared first at the ASEM Summit in 2013 and is now available in some areas of Vientiane, with 60 base stations covering the capital area and adjacent suburbs. But you better check if it's working making a network scan for 4G on 900 and 1800 MHz. Lao Telecom also offers WiFi at hotspots in Vientiane and some other areas. Speed claims to be up to 5 Mbps.
An English version of the Lao Telecom website exists now. If in Vientiane you visit LaoTel's Namphou office on Chanthakoummane Rd. or Saylom Head Office, you'll find (or can ask for) staff with reasonable English and technical skills and be able to get service details and subscription costs. However, LTC local and provincial office visits can be difficult for non-Lao speakers. Their app called "M Services" is in English and can be downloaded from Play or App store.
Refill cards are sold all over the country for 5000, 10000, 25000, 50000 and 100000 kip. To top up enter *121*<voucher PIN>#. To check balance *122#.
Voice & data SIM
Start-up price is 5,000 kip or additionally the pre-loaded credit. Their prepaid card is also dubbed M phone. Default rate is 300 kip per MB. These packages are available for 3G and 4G:
|24 hours||25 MB||1,000 kip||*118*5#|
|125 MB||5,000 kip||*118*1#|
|7 days||1.5 GB MB||10,000 kip||*118*10#|
|30 days||250 MB||10,000 kip||*118*2#|
|1.25 GB||50,000 kip||*118*3#|
|2.5 GB||100,000 kip||*118*4#|
To activate data, you might have to enter type *115*11# for 3G or *115*22# <call> for 4G. To deactivate data, type *115*00# <call> and to check data consumption *123#.
3G/4G data-only SIMs called SIM Net are available separately at 10,000 kip for a micro SIM. They offer these packages on 3G and 4G/LTE:
|24 hours||1 GB||5,000 kip||*131*5#|
|3 days||5 GB||10,000 kip||*131*57#|
|7 days||1.5 GB||10,000 kip||*131*10#|
|7 GB||25,000 kip||*131*58#|
|30 days||7 GB||50,000 kip||*131*6#|
These bundles are hard-capped, so data is shut off. The following bundles are soft-capped, speed will be throttled to 512 kbps:
|30 days||25 GB||150,000 kip||*131*11#|
|60 GB||250,000 kip||*131*12#|
|90 days||93 GB||750,000 kip||*131*13#|
|add-on||5 GB||50,000 kip||*131*21#|
Laotel data-only SIM refills can be carried out by a mobile phone: *121*<data SIM Number>*<Refill Card PIN Number># then <call>.
In 2019 Laotel released a tourist SIM to be available in all Lao Telecom outlets. It comes in 3 sizes:
- 2 GB data and 5 domestic minutes for 3 days: 25,000 kip
- 5 GB data and 10 domestic minutes for 7 days: 50,000 kip
- 12 GB data and 20 domestic minutes for 15 days: 100,000 kip
To check balance enter *122#, to check remaining data enter *123#.
- APN: ltcnet
- Website in English: http://www.laotel.com
TPlus (previously Beeline)
TPlus (formerly known as Beeline, before that as Tigo and Millicom) was mostly owned by Veon and is the smallest operator in Laos. In 2017 Veon sold the provider to the Government of Laos. In January 2019 the name was changed to TPlus and rebranded in summer 2019.
TPlus 3G/HSPA+ is available in Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Savannakhet. In reality, you can expect up to 5 Mbps; with lower speed phones or modems, downloads may be similar to LTC or ETL's 1-2 Mbps. Depending on location, Beeline offers the highest speeds in Laos. A TPlus 4G/LTE network has been announced for years now, but speed is still advertised as 3G.
Note that the double-up bonus often offered for top-ups can't be used for data, only for text and voice in a limited time. To top-up by voucher enter *121*<voucher PIN>#, to check balance *122# and to change language dial 120 and press 5.
Voice and data SIM
Their SIM costs 10,000 kip with 5,000 kip credit in their outlets (store list).Without a Beeline data pack, data cost is 300 kip per MB. These new "non-stop" packages can be added:
|1 day||2 GB||5,000 kip||*777*107#|
|4 days||5 GB||20,000 kip||*777*108#|
|10 days||10 GB||50,000 kip||*777*109#|
|30 days||30 GB||100,000 kip||*777*110#|
To activate, dial the USSD code shown. Packages are once-off. Running out of the data before the package expires will result in speeds being throttled to 512kbps for the remaining duration.
Check for data and validity: Type "C" and send to 799. SMS send to short code is free of charge.
New TPlus SIMs have been introduced with the option of data-only use called Net SIM. You can convert any voice & data SIM to a data-only SIM by activating one of these Net SIM packs:
|5 day||5 GB||5,000 kip||T10|
|1 day||2 GB||5,000 kip||N5|
|3 days||5 GB||10,000 kip||AW|
|7 days||3 GB||10,000 kip||N10|
|30 days||10 GB||50,000 kip||N50|
For activation text code to 234. All packages autorenew. To stop, text "DER"<blank> <activation code> to 234.
Note that a TPlus SIM that has been converted to data-only use can't be changed back to voice. A day is 0.00-24.00h local time. Default rate for overuse is 300 kip per MB.
TPlus has low per-MB rates for roaming to selected countries:
- South Korea (SK Telecom): 60 kip/MB
- Canada (Telus): 100 kip/MB
- Russia (Beeline): 150 kip/MB
Roaming in other countries ranges from 900 to over 200,000 kip per MB.
- to activate international roaming, text "ON" to 232
- APN: beelinenet
- Website in English: https://tplus.la/en/
ETL for Enterprise of Communications Laos Ltd. has a limited 3G network in Laos. So check coverage on location first, before you buy a SIM card. SIMs cards are again for voice and data, data-only and "unlimited" data. Simple to use, limited-only data plans for days up to one month. Speeds are similar to Lao Telecom, but coverage is lower and there is no 4G/LTE yet.
Voice & data SIM
Default rate outside of packages is 300 kip per MB. Their data packages are called "eNet" in up to 4 Mbits:
|240 MB||1 day||1,000 kip||eN1|
|800 MB||5,000 kip||eN5|
|1.5 GB||7 days||10,000 kip||eN10|
|5.5 GB||30 days||50,000 kip||eN50|
|12 GB||100,000 kip||eN100|
|30 GB||200,000 kip||eN200|
To activate text code to 333. Packages don't renew automatically. In shops the additionally offer their "eNet 2Teen" plan with unlimited data on a calendar day (0-24h) for 4,000 kip. To check data, text '122' to 333,
- APN: etlnet
- Website (partly in English): http://www.etllao.com
Planet Online is a WIMAX provider, that is not compatible to GSM devices, even if its transmission is called "4G" too. It only operates in a very limited area in Vientiane: Coverage Map. Their office can be found at 164 Samsenthai Rd., Kaoyord Village, Sisattanak District, Vientiane.
As you need to buy a new device and activate it on their network, this can only be an option, if you stay for longer in the capital. They offer:
- a mobile WiMAX router for 400,000 kip
- a mobile WiMAX MiFi hotspot router for 1,100,000 kip
These monthly plans are sold with max. speed of 10 Mbps:
- 10 GB: 200,000 kip
- 40 GB: 400,000 kip
- 75 GB: 600,000 kip
- 100 GB: 800,000 kip
Beyond quota, speed will be throttled to 128 kbps.
- Website in English: http://www.laopdr.com