São Tomé and Príncipe, officially the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, is a Portuguese-speaking island nation in the Gulf of Guinea, off the western equatorial coast of Central Africa. It consists of the two major islands São Tomé and Príncipe and some smaller islands around.
Two mobile operators are present on the islands:
- Unitel STP
Mobile phones (called telemóvels) are everywhere and coverage is pretty good. All populated areas are covered, but there are blank spots on the countryside and on Principe. CTS has the better network. Since the arrival of the fibre-optic cable in 2013 internet speed has improved considerabely.
SIM cards (called Cartãó Beijo) are available from the providers in Sao Tome city and in Santo Antonio (on Principe). They cost around STN 50 plus some preloaded credit. Registration is mandatory and it can take up to 3 hours for the SIM to activate after registration. Top-ups (called recargas) are usually sold from STN 50 in several small shops and kiosks that display the logo of the providers.
IDD calls are very expensive and some countries can only be connected through an operator. So better use VoIP like Skype or WhatsApp for calling international.
On 1st January 2018, the Banco Central de São Tomé e Príncipe redenominated the national currency STD (dobra) to STN (new dobra), whereby STN 1 = STD 1,000. CST quotes its prices in STN, while Unitel continues to quote its prices in STD, even in late 2021.
CST (for Companhia Santomense de Telecomunicações) is the incumbent and largest operator in Sao Tome and Principe. It manages the landline and internet connections too and is co-owned by the STP government and Africatel.
They offer GSM/EDGE on 900 MHz and started UMTS/HSPA on 2100 MHz in 2013, no 4G/LTE yet. Speed on prepaid is limited to 1 Mbps. They are generally considered to be the better provider with the best coverage at similar rates than Unicel.
SIM cards are sold in CST shops (list of shops.). They cost STN 80 and come with STN 50 credit. They have several different plans for voice. For data it doesn't matter much which one you choose but the plan "LEVE-LEVE" has the longest credit validity which is useful, so you're not cut off in the middle of using your data.
In addition to CST shops, independent agents sell both direct top-ups and recharge vouchers. To top-up by vocuher, enter *128*<voucher code>#.
Data feature packages
Default rate is at STN 1.1 per MB. Their data packages are called Netfone Pré-Pago and have a max of 1 Mbps:
|STN 27.5||48 hours||100 MB||STN 0.275 per MB|
|STN 110||30 days||900 MB||STN 0.367 per MB|
|STN 110||30 days
|1.8 GB||STN 0.064 per MB|
|STN 220||30 days||3 GB||STN 0.215 per MB|
|STN 330||30 days||6 GB||STN 0.161 per MB|
To buy packages you need to call 19 300 (in Portuguese) or go to one of their shops or outlets.
The price for extra megabytes is the same as the price in package, so no need for upsizes. To check remaining data, enter *#123*2#.
They also sell SIM cards for Mobile Broadband Netmóvel plan intended for tablets, USB dongles and other routers. Their 3G USB dongle is for STN 550 and their 3G WiFi router by Alcatel for STN 1,290. Their purchase price will be given as bonus for data in 12 or 14 installments.
These top-ups are offered for their Mobile Broadband offer Netmóvel all valid for 1 month:
|STN 220||30 hours||1 Mbps|
|STN 110||900 MB||2 Mbps|
|STN 220||3 GB||2 Mbps|
|STN 330||6 GB||3.6 Mbps|
For activation call 19 300 (in Portuguese) or go to one of their shops or sales outlets.
- check balance: *#123*1#
- APN: internet
- website in Portuguese: http://www.cst.st
Unitel is the second and smaller operator in Sao Tome and Principe. Unitel STP is a subsidiary of Angolan mobile phone operator Unitel, owned by the daughter of the Angolan president and started operations in 2014 on Sao Tome.
They offer GSM/EDGE on 900 MHz and UMTS/HSPA on 2100 MHz, no 4G/LTE yet. Coverage is still smaller than CST's and mainly around Sao Tome.
SIMs are available from official shops and independent agents (list of official shops). Not all agents have SIMs, some have only recharges.
Top-ups are available from stores and independent agents. Vouchers of 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 and 300,000 STD giving validity for 12, 30, 60 or 180 days. To use top-up code dial *100*<recharge code>#.
Data feature packages
Their data bundles are called BIG net:
|STD 20,000||30 MB||90 MB||1 day||*121*30#||NET 30|
|STD 50,000||100 MB||300 MB||15 days||*121*100#||NET 100|
|STD 100,000||300 MB||900 MB||30 days||*121*300#||NET 300|
|STD 200,000||1 GB||3 GB||30 days||*121*1000#||NET 1000|
|STD 300,000||2 GB||6 GB||30 days||*121*2000#||NET 2000|
|STD 600,000||5 GB||15 GB||30 days||*121*5000#||NET 5000|
|STD 900,000||10 GB||30 GB||30 days||*121*10000#||NET 10000|
They have an ongoing promotion to triple data volumes in their packages. Check, if it's still going on. To buy package use USSD or text code to 19121.
- website in Portuguese: http://www.unitel.st/
- balance (for both money balance and remaining data): *105#
- APN: internet