Sri Lanka has 5 network operators for now coming down to 3:
- Dialog (owned by Axiata) merging with Airtel
- Mobitel (owned by Sri Lanka Telecom)
- Etisalat (UAE-owned) merging with Hutch
- Hutch (owned by Hutchison Whampoa) merging with Etisalat
- Airtel (owned by Bharti Airtel) merging with Dialog
2G/GSM is on 900 and 1800 MHz up to EDGE, 3G/UMTS on 2100 MHz up to DC-HSPA+ and 4G/LTE started on Dialog and Mobitel on 1800 MHz. Now 900 and 2100 MHz is also refarmed for 4G/LTE.
In 2016 it's expected that Airtel is merging with Dialog to disappear from the Sri Lankan market. In 2018 Hutchison and Etisalat have agreed to merge their mobile businesses, operating under the names Hutch Lanka and Etisalat Lanka. The companies said that the combined business should be better positioned to serve their Sri Lankan customers. So soon there will be only three providers left in Sri Lanka.
Coverage is fairly good. You can expect 3G speeds in every city and town, even relatively small ones. Along the coast, you'll have signal of some sort everywhere, but it drops in the mountains. where you often get only slow 2G.
When you arrive in the country at Bandaranaike International Airport near Colombo, buying a SIM card is extremely simple. As you exit the baggage reclaim area, you’ll encounter a row of cell company vendors. If you’ve got a few minutes, ask around at each vendor and see which one has the best rates at the time. You'll pay more at these stalls as they often only offer "tourist packages" which are more expensive than standard plans. Ask for their standard packs and if they won't sell you, go in town to one of their outlets to make a better deal for data.
When purchasing a SIM card, you may need to prove your ID by showing a passport. A digital photograph of you is taken at some stores. If you do not wish to be photographed, please produce a recent passport-size photograph conforming to passport specifications.
All operators list their prices with taxes included, only for Airtel you need to add taxes (+12.24%).
Dialog Axiata, formerly known as Dialog Telecom, is the biggest mobile provider in Sri Lanka. It has the best coverage in the country at the highest rates: Coverage map. 4G/LTE on 1800 MHz is given out on prepaid where available without surcharge.
Tourist plan Edit
Their tourist plan comes in two sizes:
- for Rs. 499: including Rs. 250 IDD call credit, Rs. 100 local call credit, 1 GB data and 6 hrs of WIFI valid for 30 days
- for Rs. 1,299 including Rs. 600 IDD call credit, Rs. 350 local call credit, 9 GB data valid for 30 days
To activate - Rs.1299. Tourist plan will be automatically activated when you Top Up Rs.1299 or dial #778# and activate Rs.1299 plan if you have credit balance more than Rs.1299.
normal and micro SIMs are available and you can top up with regular vouchers and add regular data packages.
Their standard SIMs may be a better deal, if you only want data. They come in two tariff lines: per minute package and per second package, both for Rs. 150 start-up fee. For data it doesn't make a difference as the same data packs can be added. They are available islandwide from Dialog customer service centers and local dealers: Dialog Store locator
Recharge cards are available everywhere from Rs. 50 - 1,000 adding 15 to 365 days of validity.
Data feature packsEdit
Default rate outside of packages and for overuse is Rs. 1 per MB.
|Rs. 20||30 mins||1 day||unlimited||KBB20|
|Rs. 50||2 hours||3 days||unlimited||KBB50|
|Rs. 100||5 hours||5 days||500 MB||KBB100|
|Rs. 200||12 hours||5 days||1 GB||KBB200|
|Rs. 400||24 hours||7 days||2 GB||KBB400|
|20 MB||Rs. 3||1 day||DBB3|
|100 MB||Rs. 20||1 day||DBB20|
|130 MB||Rs. 29||3 days||INT29|
|300 MB||Rs. 49||7 days||INT49|
|600 MB||Rs. 99||21 days||INT99|
|1 GB day, 1 GB night||Rs. 199||30 days||INT199|
|2 GB day, 4 GB night||Rs. 449||30 days||INT449|
|4 GB day, 5 GB night||Rs. 649||30 days||INT649|
|7 GB day, 8 GB night||Rs. 949||30 days||INT949|
|10 GB day, 12 GB night||Rs. 1,449||30 days||INT1449|
|15 GB day, 10 GB night||Rs. 1,949||30 days||INT1949|
|25 GB day, 10 GB night||Rs. 2,949||30 days||INT2949|
Note: All prices including taxes. To activate, send text with code to 678. Night data is midnight to 8am, day data 8am to midnight. Once usage of volume-based packages exceeds the indicated data amount, you'll get a message and the default rate will be charged.
They offer these special nighttime packages for midnight to 6am only, valid for one night only:
- 1 GB: Rs. 20, activation: NT20
- 3 GB: Rs. 50, activation: NT50
- unlimited: Rs. 100, activation: NT100
For activation, text code to 678.
- APN: ppwap
- Tethering is allowed
Mobitel, owned by Sri Lanka Telecom Plc. is the 2nd provider in the country. It has a good coverage in 2G and 3G and started with 4G on 1800 MHz and 900 MHz. Coverage map. Plans to merge with Hutch have not yet materialized.
Tourist Pack Edit
Their tourist SIMs come in two sizes:
- Rs. 499: including Rs. 100 worth of local calls, Rs. 200 worth of IDD calls, 1.5 GB data and 6 hours of WiFi valid for 30 days
- Rs. 999: including Rs. 250 worth of local calls, Rs. 500 worth of IDD calls, 3 GB data and 12 hours of WiFi valid for 30 days
Available at the airports, for data-only better take a regular package.
Regular SIM cards are available islandwide for Rs. 200-300 in their service centers (Store locator) and at local dealers. A digital photograph of you is taken at the Mobitel centre. If you do not wish to be photographed, please produce a recent passport-size photograph conforming to passport specifications.
Top-ups as cards or electronic recharges are sold all over the country. Check balance by *100#.
Data feature packsEdit
|Rs. 5||24 hours||25 MB||Rs. 0.50 / MB||D5|
|Rs. 29||3 days||80 MB day, 80 MB night||Rs. 0.01 / 10 KB||D29|
|Rs. 49||7 days||200 MB day, 200 MB night||Rs. 0.01 / 10 KB||D49|
|Rs. 99||21 days||400 MB day, 400 MB night||Rs. 0.01 / 10 KB||D99|
|Rs. 199||30 days||800 MB day, 1.2 GB night||Rs. 0.20 / MB||D199|
|Rs. 299||30 days||1.2 GB day, 1.8 GB night||Rs. 0.20 / MB||D299|
|Rs. 399||30 days||2 GB day, 2.5 GB night||Rs. 0.20 / MB||D399|
|Rs. 699||30 days||4 GB day, 4 GB night||Rs. 0.20 / MB||D699|
|Rs. 999||30 days||6 GB day, 6 GB night||Rs. 0.20 / MB||D999|
|Rs. 1999||30 days||14 GB day, 14 GB night||Rs. 0.20 / MB||D1990|
All prices are tax included. For activation text code to 7678. daytime is 9am to midnight, nighttime is midnight to 9am. Check data balance by #170#,
- APN: mobitel3g
- Website: http://www.mobitel.lk/
Etisalat (to be merged with Hutch)Edit
Etisalat from the UAE is the 3rd provider in Sri Lanka giving a reasonable coverage in populated areas mostly: Coverage map.
In December 2018 Etisalat Group has released a statement confirming it has completed the sale of its 100% stake in mobile network operator Etisalat Lanka to Hutchison Telecommunications Lanka (Hutch Lanka). Both networks will be merged under the Hutch brand while Etisalat will retain a minority stake in the new entity. The merger is expected to last until 2020.
Tourist SIM Edit
Etisalat's tourist SIM is sold at the airport and in flagship stores in 2 denominations:
- Rs. 1,000: including Rs. 500 worth of IDD calls, Rs. 50 worth of domestic voice, 30 intern. and 150 national SMS and 1 GB of data, valid for one month
- Rs. 1,300: including Rs. 750 worth of IDD calls, Rs. 100 worth of domestic voice, 50 intern. and 200 national SMS and 1.5 GB of data, vaild for one month.
To reload, you have to top up another Rs. 1,000 or 1,300. So their regular SIM cards, may be a better deal for data.
Their regular prepaid SIM is sold for Rs. 150 in their stores: locator. It comes as a per minute pack or per second pack.
Top-ups are done through "refresh cards" of Rs. 1 - 1,000 giving validity of 1 to 365 days. To check your balance, dial #134#.
Data feature packsEdit
Default rate is Rs. 1 per MB. These packages can be booked on the prepaid cards:
All prices but the Rs. 1500 plan are tax included. Excess usage is at default rate. Night traffic is midnight to 8am. For activation text code to 2211.
Data-only SIM Edit
Their SIM card for data-only is called "Maxxa" and sold for Rs. 300.
The MAXX data-plan: For every reload of Rs. 199, you get 1 GB data plus 1 GB for night traffic, valid for 30 days. For Rs. 59 you can get a night add-on of 1 GB and for Rs. 99 a night add-on of 2 GB, both valid for 3 nights by texting N59 or N99 to 2211.
- APN: ebb
- Website: http://www.etisalat.lk/
Hutch (merging with Etisalat) Edit
Hutch by Hutchison Whampoa used to be the 4th provider in the country giving the lowest rates for data on a reasonable coverage in the populated areas mainly: coverage map . In 2018 4G/LTE was launched in the Western Province to be spread nationwide later.
Hutchison has bought Etisalat in 2018 and is expected to merge the two networks. The enlarged entity will have a combined mobile subscriber market share of 27% making it the new no. 2 in Sri Lanka. The merger is expected to take up to 18 months to complete, during which time systems, networks, products and services will be combined.
Their SIM card is available for free or a minimal price in their stores (Store locator). Reloads are avaiable from Rs. 10 and are all valid for one year.
To check balance text "bal" to 344.
Data feature packs Edit
They have a huge variety of plans for prepaid. All prices are tax included. Excess is at default rate.
- Always Internet on: 15 cts per MB daytime (midnight - 6pm), 30 cts per MB nighttime (6pm - midnight). Activation: *131*1# - default rate
- Pocket Internet: for light and shorttime use
- 20 MB for 1 day, Rs. 3 activation: *131*2*1#
- 75 MB for 2 days, Rs. 14, activation: *131*2*2#
- 130 MB for 3 days, Rs. 29, activation: *131*2*3#
- 500 MB for 15 days, Rs. 89, activation: 131*2*5#
- Daytime blast: for daytime users
- 40 MB daytime (midnight - 6pm), 10 MB anytime for 2 days: Rs. 7, activation: *131*4*4#
- 100 MB daytime (midnight - 6pm), 30 MB anytime for 4 days: Rs. 17, activation: *131*4*3#
- 650 MB daytime (midnight - 6pm), 100 MB anytime for 15 days, Rs. 97, activation: *131*4*1#
- 1.5 GB daytime (midnight - 6pm), 500 MB anytime for 30 days, Rs. 197, activation: *131*4*2#
- 40 GB daytime (midnight - 6pm), 2 GB anytime for 30 days, Rs. 1970, activation: *131*4*6#
- Value internet: for medium users
- 750 MB, 100 dom minutes for 30 days: Rs. 195, activation: *131*3*5*6#
- 8.5 GB, 7 GB night use for 30 days: Rs. 998, activation: *131*3*1#
- 15 GB, 10 GB night use for 45 days: Rs. 1690, activation: *131*3*2#
- 25 GB, 10 GB night use for 45 days: Rs. 2490, activation: *131*3*3#
- Day and Night Internet: for heavy users (daytime = 9am - midnight, nighttime = midnight - 9am)
- 30 MB day, 40 MB night for 2 days: Rs. 6, activation: *131*5*1#
- 100 MB day, 100 MB night fro 4 days, Rs. 18, activation: *131*5*2#
- 550 MB day, 550 MB night for 14 days, Rs. 99, activation: *131*5*3#
- 1.1 GB day, 1.1 GB night for 30 days, Rs. 198, activation: *131*5*5*6#
- 1.5 GB day, 3 GB night for 30 days, Rs. 290, activation: *131*5*5*7#
- 3 GB day, 6 GB night for 45 days, Rs. 490, activation: *131*5*5*8#
- 5 GB day, 7 GB night for 45 days, Rs. 649, activation: *131*5*4*7#
- 8.5 GB day, 7 GB night for 30 days, Rs. 998, activation: *131*5*5*10*11#
- 15 GB day, 10 GB night for 45 days, Rs. 1690, activation: *131*5*5*10*12#
- 25 GB day, 10 GB night for 45 days, Rs. 2490, activation: *131*3*5*10*14#
- Ghost Internet: for night users (2am - 6am only)
- 2 GB for 3 nights: Rs. 45, activation: *131*6*2*1#
- 4 GB for 7 nights: Rs. 75, activation: *131*6*2*2#
- 10 GB for 15 nights: Rs. 175, activation: *131*6*2*3#
- unlimited for 7 nights (1am - 6am): Rs. 299, activation: *131*6*1*2#
More info Edit
- APN: Hutch3g
- Website: http://www.hutch.lk
Airtel a.k.a. Airtel Lanka, by Indian Bharti Airtel is the smallest provider in Sri Lanka and started in 2009. It has a rather limited coverage in populated areas which you can check here: coverage map. Speed is up to 3.6 Mbps. It can be expected that Airtel will disappear from the country in 2017 after merging with Dialog, but this hsn't happened so far.
Take care: All prices listed of Airtel are without taxes. So 27.55 % for phone products and 12.24 % on data need to be added.
Their SIM cards are available in their stores (locator). You can get the "per second" or "per minute" plan which doesen't make a difference for data. They both come for:
- Rs. 100 plus tax: including 350 MB, 1000 on-net SMS and Rs. 99 airtime
Recharges are sold Rs. 30 - 1000. To check your data balance, dial *550#.
Data feature packsEdit
Default rate is Rs. 0.01 per 10 KB.
They offer these packages without taxes (always add 12.24 %):
|Price||Data Volume||Night Data||Validity||Activation|
|Rs. 59||330 MB||440 MB||5 days||D59|
|Rs. 149||660 MB||1 GB||14 days||D149|
|Rs. 179||800 MB||14 days||*179#|
|Rs. 479||5 GB||30 days|
|Rs. 999||12 GB||30 days|
Different packages require separate SIM pack for each plan. All prices are without taxes (+ 12.24%). Nighttime is 1am-7am. For subscription text code to 155.
For night users (1am-7am) they have this package:
- 4.4 GB for 10 nights: Rs. 121, activation: *155*1*3#
Add 12.24% tax, packages must be activated on a seperate SIM, to activate type *155*1*3# <call> for all packs.
- APN: airtel
- Website: http://www.airtel.lk