Like in Hong Kong, in the Chinese "special administration area“ of Macau mobile networks are independent and other rules apply than in mainland China. Different providers operate and Chinese censorship is not enforced (except with China Telecom) in Macau.
There are 4 mobile networks in Macau:
- CTM (MobiWeb)
- Three Macau (3, by Hutchison Whampoa)
- [China Telecom Macau (CDMA-only)]
China Telecom Macau runs an GSM-incompatible CDMA-network like in the rest of China (for more information of which devices may work on their network, please check China Telecom in our China article). While they have a LTE network in Macau now, their SIMs do actually enforce Chinese censorship and they no longer offer unlimited data, so they will no longer be mentioned here.
The first three operators are GSM-networks on 2100 MHz for 3G up to HSPA+. 4G/LTE has started at the end of 2015 on all 4 networks covering > 90% of population. Licenses in 1800 MHz (Band 3), 2600 MHz FDD-LTE (Band 7) and 2300 MHz TDD-LTE (Band 40) have been awarded. Coverage is good and similar on all three GSM providers.
At the end of this list the public free WiFi network is shown as an alternative to mobile network coverage at some locations.
2G shutdown Edit
Authorities in Macau have approved a plan by three GSM mobile operators to finally switch off their 2G networks in 2019. The cellcos CTM, Three and SmarTone alread stopped offering GSM-based 2G services for domestic users in mid-2015, but maintained their networks for roaming visitors. China Telecom Macau was allowed to terminate its own CDMA-based 2G services back in 2010.
A statement from the regulator, the Post and Telecommunications Bureau (CTT), says the operators are now free to switch off their legacy GSM systems from 1 August 2019, with spectrum to be freed up for other technologies. 93% of mobile users in Macau are subscribed to 4G services, with the remainder using 3G networks.
SIM cards are available in Macau without registration. They even have self-service vending machines at the airport, the two major piers for ferries from Hong Kong, as well as the Border Gate Checkpoint. But going to the shops and outlets of the operators is recommended. Smaller SIM sizes are sold there too or can be cut to size. Tethering and VoIP calls are allowed and the internet is not censored like in mainland China.
The official currency of Macau is the Macanese pataca (MOP). It's pegged to the Hong Kong dollar (HKD, HK$) 1 HKD = 1.03 MOP and so through the HKD it's indirectly linked to the US dollar (USD, US$). In the business world and all over the city the HK$ is accepted too. The prices given in the article in $ refer to MOP or with a slight 3% surcharge to HK$, but not to US$.
CTM (MobiWeb) Edit
CTM for Companhia de Telecomunicações de Macau is the state monopolist in the landline department. For mobile communications they compete mainly with Three and SmarTone. They sell most of their mobile products under the brand name MobiWeb. 4G/LTE has started in 2015 both on FDD- and TDD-LTE and already covers 98% of population.
Their prepaid cards are sold all over the city: sales outlets.
Reloads can be made with vouchers of $50, $100, $200 and $500 found everywhere in 7-Eleven or Circle K convenience stores or online. Dial *122# to check the expiry date and residual balance.
They offer by far the biggest choice of prepaid starters and plans in Macau:
Their 3G prepaid cards come in two varieties: with IDD calls and roaming or local-only. They also come in two starters without access to 4G/LTE:
- for $ 100: with 302 MB local data usage and 10 mins local video call
- for $ 50: with 100 MB local data
Default data outside packs is $0.625 per MB. These four monthly 3G packs can be added:
- 1: 300 MB mobile internet and 12 hours WiFi for $ 29
- 2: 1 GB mobile internet and 28 hours WiFi for $ 99
- 3: 2 GB mobile internet and 60 hours WiFi for $ 169
- 4: unlimited mobile internet and unlimited WiFi for $ 500
Overuse is charged at $0.625 per MB for mobile internet and $0.10 per min for WiFi. This service is not available for the non-activated prepaid card. Activate the prepaid card via 1772 or *122# before using this service. Dial 1772 or press *122* Reload Voucher No. # <Confirm Button> for reloading prepaid card.
To subscribe a pack type #160*?# and <dial> where ? is 1, 2, 3 or 4 according to plan no. Upon successful register via 1773, the service charge is deducted instantly. The usage expiry date is 30 days; thereafter charges will be deducted automatically in the residual balance every 30 days.
The WiFi User ID is the mobile number of the prepaid card. Upon successful registration of a WiFi plan, the system will automatically send out the WiFi password by SMS to you.
Here again 2 varieties are sold. Prepaid SIM cards for $100 or $50 similar to the 3G cards, but with a focus on data. These monthly data packs can be added:
- 200 MB: $ 28, activation: *166*1#
- 500 MB: $ 58, activation: *166*2#
- 1 GB: $ 98, activation: *166*3#
Recently, they have also introduced the 4G SIM called "Speedy". For $ 100 activation fee, you will get 880 MB local data, unlimited CTM WiFi, unlimited CTM Buddy local voice airtime and 480 mins basic local voice. These monthly packages can be added:
- 880 MB: $ 48, activation: *178*1#
- 2 GB: $ 98, activation: *178*2#
- 5 GB: $ 218, activation: *178*3#
- "unlimited": $ 500, activation: *178*4#
All packages come with unlimited CTM WiFi, unlimited CTM Buddy local voice airtime and 480 mins basic local voice. The "unlimited" package is limited in speed beyond 10 GB. Check data consumption by *173#.
This data-only SIM called "online everywhere in Macau" includes mobile internet in 3G or 4G and unlimited WiFi and is directed to tourists. It's sold as a $100 (for 3 days) or $200 (for 7 days) SIM card package, with the remainder of the balance usable as voice minutes charged at $0.40 per minute. It can be activated on a 3G or a 4G prepaid card.
- 3 days (72 hours after activation): $ 78, FUP: 2 GB, then throttled to 256 kbps; activation on 3G: *162*1#, activation on 4G: *163*1#
- 7 days (168 hours after activation): $ 188, FUP: 4 GB, then throttled to 256 kbps, activation on 3G: *162*7#, activation on 4G: *163*7#.
The 'Online Everywhere in Macau Plan' will expire after 3 or 7 days, and will not extend automatically. For service extension, re-apply for the plan again, the charge is deducted instantly and it is limited to apply only once during the same period. Check your consumptions by *173#.
International roaming SIM cards Edit
CTM has launched the CTM 4G+ Go Global 15 days pass prepay card. It's exclusively available for sale on the Macau Good Hands on-line shop at $ 250. After activation, customers will have access to 2 GB data roaming service within 62 countries and regions across the world including Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Greater China and have also access to over 4 million WiFi hotspots located in the Greater China.
More info Edit
- APN: ctm-mobile
- Website: http://www.ctm.net/cportal/base/public/mobiweb/PrepaidLeftNav.iface
Three (3, by Hutchison Whampoa) Edit
As usual Three by Hutchison Whampoa offers the biggest diversity in prepaid SIM cards. Note that SIM cards from Three in Hong Kong are working at foreign roaming rates.
4G/LTE is on 1800 MHz (Band 3) opened on some prepaid SIM cards so far. It already covers 95% of the population in 2016.
Prepaid SIM cards and recharge vouchers are available all over Macau including 3 Shops and the following authorized dealers: Sai Hang, Vending Machine at border gate, Vending Machine at Macau Ferry Terminal, 7-Eleven and Circle K convenience stores.
Vouchers are sold for $50, $100, $200 and $500 at the same dealers. To top up enter ##122*<voucher code>#. They offer many starters and options as well:
- 3G Low-speed Data Card: start-up price: $ 100. It comes with 30 days unlimited data throttled to 384 Kbps download and 128 Kbps upload speed. For this SIM there are three options available:
- 3 GB for 30 days: $ 68, activation: **160*1#, deactivation: ##160*1#
- 8 GB for 30 days: $ 168, activation: **160*2#, deactivation: ##160*2#
- 12 GB for 30 days: $ 238, activation: **160*3#, deactivation: ##160*3#
Default rate is a high $0.01 per KB capped at $500 per month on the 3G plans.
They offer a variety of 4G SIM cards valid in Macau and roaming in Hong Kong on the Three networks. These starters are offered:
- for $ 50 including a 1-day pass of local data (see below)
- for $ 100 including a 3-days pass of local data (see below)
Default local data is high $5 per MB. To the starters, these packages can be activated:
- Local data package 1: 200 MB data in Macau and Hong Kong for 30 days: $ 18 - activation: **268*1#
- Local data package 2: 2 GB data in Macau and Hong Kong for 30 days: $ 48 - activation: **268*2#
- Local data package 3: 4 GB data in Macau and Hong Kong for 30 days: $ 88 - activation: **268*3#
- 1-day pass: "unlimited" local data for 24 hours: $ 50 - activation: **263*1#
- 3-days pass: "unlimited" local data for 3 days: $ 78 - activation: **263*2#
- 5-days pass: "unlimited" local data for 5 days: $ 188 - activation: **263*3#
The different day passes will be throttled to 256 Kbps having reached 1 GB. Check data balance by **105#.
Like Three in HK Three in Macau also sells a dual country roaming card that is also valid on the China Unicom network in the mainland without censorship. It's valid for 3 days only, costs HK$ 78, and it comes with "unlimited" data. The download speed will be automatically adjusted to not lower than 256 Kbps when usage reaches 1 GB. To extend top-up as the package will be automatically renewed and the package fee will be deducted at midnight of the 4th day in Macau time of subscription date.
More info Edit
- APN: mobile.three.com.mo
- Website: http://www.three.com.mo/eng
SmarTone has only one prepaid SIM card on offer. It’s sold at their shops and outlets: service centres but if you are coming from Hong Kong, you can buy their $98 HK-Macau starter pack with a wider range of options.
Its package includes a $50 prepaid SIM card. Top-ups are available from $50. They have a rather limited choice of data options:
Data options Edit
- A local data day plan is at $ 100 with unlimited data for a day. To subscribe press *123*6*1117#.
For local data usage $0.0009 per KB is charged (which amounts to $0.9 per MB, capped at $500 per month) for customers that have not applied a daily data plan. When the monthly data ceiling charge of $500 is reached, the customer can still continue to use the service and the data access speed will be restricted to less than 256 kbps.
Data roaming service is disabled by default on their prepaid SIM. If you would like to activate the data roaming service, press #109*99#. To suspend the data roaming service again, press *109*99#.
More info Edit
- APN: smartone /or/ smartgprs
- Website: http://www.smartone.com/mo/en/mobile-services/price-plans/prepaid-sim-card/pricing.jsp
WiFi Go Edit
In 2010 the Government of the Macao started a free public WiFi network called WiFi Go. Up to 2016 Macau's Telecommunications Regulatory Services Bureau has installed 201 Wi-Fi service points in government spaces, major tourist attractions and tourist routes in Macau, as well as in places where people congregate (locator).
To log in choose "Wifi go" or "Wifi go-s" in your list of WiFis, click on connect and if asked for a password or username take 'wifigo' (in one word). Some hotspots operate all day, others only from 8am to 1am. Some of the hotspots are WPA2 encrypted, others are open. Take care when sending sensitive data. Some websites are filtered out. There is a speed limit of 3 Mbps and a time limit of 45 minutes for every session.
- Website in English: http://www.wifi.gov.mo/en/