The Maldives have 2 network operators:
2G/GSM is on 900 MHz, 3G on 2100 MHz up to (DC-)HSPA+ speed, 4G/LTE has started in 2013 on both providers on 1800 MHz (3) and added by 2100 (1) and 2600 (7) MHz. 5G started on Dhiraagu in Male in 2019 and is available without surcharge. Both networks have shops next door to each other at Male international airport.
Dhiraagu has the better coverage, though you have to check first on remote islands. To purchase a SIM card you need to fill out a form and show your passport to the vendor.
To buy a SIM card for a Maldives vacation may be definitely worthwhile doing, as a lot of the resorts charge excessively for internet (for instance Sheraton $20 or Ohluveli $10 per day).
An unavoidable 6% GST (Goods and Services Tax) is added on top of the price of SIM cards or top-ups. If the purchase takes place in a tourist establishment, then the prevailing tourist sector GST rate, which is up to 12%, will be added. Therefore all publshed prices misleadingly exclude the GST, which will have already been paid on the credit balance.
Dhiraagu is the leading and the largest provider of telecommunications and digital services in the Maldives. It's mostly owned by the Batelco Group from Bahrain and the Government of the Maldives. They have linked the Maldives from north to south through a 1,253 km long fibre optic submarine cable network which supports the nation's largest 3G and 4G/LTE and fixed broadband networks.
4G/LTE started in Male on 1800 MHz (band 3) frequency band and has been expanded in 2015 to a few more islands and the 2600 MHz (band 7). In 2016 they completed a campaign to provide 3G services to 100% of Maldivians on all inhabited islands, and its focus is now on offering nationwide coverage of its 4G/LTE network, which is currently available to 60% of the population. Dhiraagu is aiming to complete the 4G/LTEexpansion project by the end of 2017: Coverage List.
The prepaid SIM card is for MVR 30 plus GST with MVR 20 credit in their stores and partner shops: stores list. Their shop at the international airport is closed 1am-7am every night and 11am-2pm for Friday prayer. You need to fill out a form and show your passport for purchase.
Recharging online with international credit cards doesn't work, so it's better to buy top-up vouchers, which may be more expensive in tourist areas because of the added tax. Check balance by *142#.
They have different prepaid plans on offer. By default you are on the standard plan that doesn't include data. You may change to the RED plan by texting "PKG<blank>RED" to 444 for free. This free base plan includes free Twitter and Facebook use. By texting "RED" to 343 you can lower the default data rate to 30 MYR for 24 hours.
Mamen offers a more favourable price at which to buy data, because it avoids the need to buy a large expensive bundle of data, much of which can be wasted, particularly if you subsequently stay at a resort with better free wifi coverage than you had anticipated.
Mamen has its own currency of Raalhubis or RBs, which don’t expire and are valid for 365 days with every top-up, making it easier to retain for future trips. 1 RB costs MVR 7.
100MB of data costs 1 RB, which in turn costs MVR 7. Therefore data costs MVR 0.07 per MB in 100MB increments. This compares very favourably with the large bundles listed below, but without the wastage commonly experienced with partially unused large bundles.
If two people are travelling together, then one person can join Mamen, and then refer the other person as a new Mamen customer, giving the first person 300MB for free and the second person 500MB for free.
Mamen has a list of frequently asked questions.
Data feature packs
Default data is at an expensive MVR 100 per MB on all plans. So it's much better to add packages. These data packages are on 2G, 3G and 4G, where available:
|Mini Data Bundles|
|12 hours||100MB||MVR 15||Data15|
|24 hours||250MB||MVR 30||Data30|
|3 days||500MB + 250MB social media||MVR 50||Data50|
|7 days||1GB + 500MB social media||MVR 75||Data75|
|1 hour||25 MB||MVR 10||DATA25||MVR 90 /MB|
|24 hours||125 MB||MVR 25||DATA125|
|30 days||500 MB||MVR 99||500MB||MVR 15 /MB|
|1GB + 200MB||MVR 150||1GB|
|2 GB||MVR 199||2GB|
|3 GB||MVR 249||3GB|
|5 GB||MVR 349||5GB|
|8 GB||MVR 549||8GB|
|15 GB||MVR 949||15GB||MVR 10 /MB|
|Power Plus Plans:|
|30 days||3 GB||MVR 299||Plus3||throttled, add-ons:
3 GB: MVR 169
code: TBB Plus3
5 GB: MVR 249
code: TBB Plus5
|5 GB||MVR 399||Plus5|
|25 GB||MVR 1299||Plus25|
|50 GB||MVR 1899||Plus50|
|75 GB||MVR 2599||Plus75|
|100 GB||MVR 2999||Plus100|
For all rates add 6% or more taxes (see Basics). You have to load the credit plus tax on your card first. To activate text ADD <space> <Activation Code> to 343 for MVR 1 or by *123*6*3#. All packages auto-renew. To suspend type REMOVE <space> <Activation Code> to 343.
The Power Plans will not throttle when depleted, but charge an excess fee of 10-MVR 15 per MB. The Power Plus Plans instead will throttle speed, but won't charge an excess fee with an option to buy add-ons.
To check data balance dial *123*6*3*1#
Dhiraagu sells two tourist SIMs with a 14-day validity:
- Traveller Plus: USD 30 for 17GB, 150 minutes, 150 SMS and USD 6.50 of credit
- Traveller Premium: USD 50 for 30GB, 300 minutes, 150 SMS and USD 9.50 of credit
Dhiraagu has installed about 35 WiFi hotspots in Male and more in a dozen other islands (locations). To access a hotspot you need login ID. You can get an account via SMS using a Dhiraagu Mobile by sending an SMS to 414 with a keyword, or a blank SMS to 414 to receive keyword syntax. You will then receive a username and password. The charges will be debited from your mobile account:
- 30 mins within 1 day: MVR 10
- 2 hours within 5 days: MVR 30
- 10 hours within 10 days: MVR 140
- 30 hours within 30 days: MVR 350
- 60 hours within 60 days: MVR 590
- unlimited within 1 day: MVR 95
- APN: internet.dhimobile
- Website in English: http://www.dhiraagu.com.mv/
Ooredoo (formerly Wataniya)
Ooredoo was taken over and rebranded 2012 from Wataniya. It's the second mobile provider in the Maldives. LTE has started 2014 on 2600 MHz (band 7) in Male, now available to prepaid customers to be added by 2100 MHz (band 1).
Their coverage is good but not as good as Dhiraagu's, so make a network check before you buy a SIM card. In 2017 LTE coverage has spread to 40 inhabited and resort islands: coverage map covering 75% of the population.
Prepaid SIM starters called connection kits are available in their stores: Store locator. They are sold for MVR 30 plus GST with MVR 20 preloaded credit and an initial validity period of 60 days. They have a shop at the international airport.
You can top-up with recharge cards sold all over for more credit and validity. Type *201*<voucher PIN>#. To get your account balance, type *200#.
Data feature packs
Ou of package rates is MVR 1 per KB on default. So add one of these packages:
|60 minutes||30 MB||MVR 10||MVR 90 /MB|
|24 hours||1 GB||MVR 51|
|2 days||2.5 GB||MVR 101|
|3 days||160 MB||MVR 30|
|5 days||5 GB||MVR 201|
|7 days||300 MB||MVR 50|
|3 GB||MVR 198|
|10 days||5 GB||MVR 298|
|15 days||10 GB||MVR 499|
|30 days||550 MB||MVR 99||MVR 20 /MB|
|1 GB||MVR 149|
|2 GB||MVR 199||MVR 15 /MB|
|3 GB||MVR 249|
|4 GB||MVR 299|
|6 GB||MVR 399|
|9 GB||MVR 599|
|14 GB||MVR 899||MVR 10 /MB|
|20 GB||MVR 999|
|60 GB||MVR 1999|
|100 GB||MVR 2999|
|200 GB||MVR 5699|
Taxes of at least 6% apply (see Basics). To activate a package type *929# and choose the bundle, to check data credit, text 'BALANCE' to 5555 or type *200#, to deactivate a package, text 'STOP' to 5555.
Note that they have Viber packages, but they're only for messanging and exclude voice calls through VoIP which is the most popular activity on Viber.
Data sharing packs
For prepaid subscribers they offer Data Sharing packs. Their allowances can be shared amongst different users:
- 10 GB: MVR 699 - shared by up to 3 subscribers, valid for 30 days, excess fee: MVR 90 per MB
- 25 GB: MVR 1299 - shared by up to 5 subscribers, valid for 30 days, excess fee: MVR 90 per MB
For purchase dial *929#, select Data Sharing Pack, select Package Subscription and choose either Data Sharing Pack 699 or Data Sharing Pack 1299. To add a member for Data Share, dial *929#, select Data Sharing Pack, select Package Sharing, enter the mobile number with whom you'd like to share Data and enter the data allowance in GB to share with the new member. To deactivate Data Share text 'STOP' to 5566.
- APN: OoredooData
- Website in English: http://www.ooredoo.mv/