Sri Lanka has 4 network operators:
- Dialog (owned by Axiata)
- Mobitel (owned by Sri Lanka Telecom)
- Hutch (owned by Hutchison Whampoa) merged with Etisalat
- Airtel (owned by Bharti Airtel)
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, Mobitel and Hutch on 1800 MHz (B3). Now 900 (B8) and 2100 MHz (B1) is also refarmed for 4G/LTE.
In 2018 Hutchison and Etisalat have agreed to merge their mobile businesses, operating under the names Hutch Lanka and Etisalat Lanka. The newly combined network is marketed under the Hutch brand.
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 will 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 (B3) is given out on prepaid where available without surcharge. It's the biggest provider with almost half of the subscribers in the country.
Their standard SIMs may be a better deal than the tourist plan (see below), 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 island-wide 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. 0.30 per MB.
@ 512 kbps
|Rs. 20||1 hour||500 MB||2 GB|
|Rs. 60||4 hours||1 GB||4 GB|
|Rs. 100||2 days||2 GB||8 GB|
|Rs. 200||5 days||4 GB||10 GB|
|Rs. 400||10 days||8 GB||15 GB|
|165 MB||165 MB||82.5 MB||Rs. 29||3 days||INT29|
|330 MB||330 MB||165 MB||Rs. 49||7 days||INT49|
|660 MB||660 MB||330 MB||Rs. 99||21 days||INT99|
|1.43 GB||1.43 GB||0.175 GB||Rs. 199||30 days||INT199|
|2.64 GB||2.64 GB||1.32 GB||Rs. 349||30 days||INT 349|
|3.96 GB||3.96 GB||1.98 GB||Rs. 499||30 days||INT499|
|5.5 GB||5.5 GB||2.75 GB||Rs. 649||30 days||INT649|
|8.8 GB||8.8 GB||4.4 GB||Rs. 949||30 days||INT949|
|14.3 GB||14.3 GB||7.15 GB||Rs. 1,449||30 days||INT1449|
|19.8 GB||19.8 GB||9.9 GB||Rs. 1,949||30 days||INT1949|
|33 GB||33 GB||16.5 GB||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 anytime, 4G bonus only for 4G networks. 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.
- 3.63 GB nighttime, 302.5 MB anytime for 21 nights: Rs. 95
- 60.05 GB nighttime, 6.05 GB anytime for 30 nights: Rs. 1499
Tourist plan Edit
Their tourist plan includes
- for Rs. 1299: Rs. 600 IDD call credit, Rs. 350 local call credit, 10 GB data as 6 GB anytime and 4 GB morning data (midnight to 6am) valid for 30 days
The Tourist plan will be automatically activated when you top up Rs.1299 or dial #778# and activate Rs.1299 plan. You can top up with regular vouchers and add regular data packages.
- APN: ppwap
- Tethering is allowed
- Website: https://www.dialog.lk/
Mobitel, owned by Sri Lanka Telecom Plc. is the 2nd provider in the country with a 28% share of the market. It has a good coverage in 2G and 3G and started with 4G on 1800 MHz (B3) and 900 MHz (B8): Coverage map.
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
Overuse is at Rs. 0.30 per MB. These data packs are available:
|Rs. 5||24 hours||40 MB||D5|
|Rs. 29||3 days||150 MB||150 MB||D29|
|Rs. 49||7 days||300 MB||300 MB||225 MB||D49|
|Rs. 99||21 days||600 MB||600 MB||450 MB||D99|
|Rs. 199||30 days||1.3 GB||1.3 GB||1 GB||D199|
|Rs. 299||30 days||2 GB||2 GB||1.5 GB||D299|
|Rs. 399||30 days||2.5 GB||2.5 GB||2 GB||D399|
|Rs. 499||30 days||4 GB||3 GB||3 GB||D499|
|Rs. 699||30 days||6.1 GB||5.1 GB||4.6 GB||D699|
|Rs. 999||30 days||8.1 GB||8.1 GB||6.1 GB||D999|
|Rs. 1999||30 days||20.48 GB||20.48 GB||15 GB||D1990|
All prices are tax included. For activation text code to 7678. Daytime is anytime, nighttime is midnight to 9am, 4G bonus can only be used on a 4G network. Check data balance by #170#.
They also sell these time-based plans with unlimited data:
- for 30 mins: Rs. 20
- for 3 hours: Rs. 60
- for 5 hours: Rs. 95
- for 12 houts: Rs. 199
- for 24 houts: Rs. 389
These last prices are without taxed, those in the table above include taxes.
Tourist SIM Edit
Mobitel has issued a prepaid tourist pack for Rs. 1600 (tax included) to be sold at the airport. It contains some free minutes, but only 500 MB free data, but you can add usual packages.
For data users they have issued a special data pack for tourists. It sold for Rs. 1999 (tax included)valid for 365 days. It contains 20 GB valid 9am to midnight and another 20 GB valid from midnight to 9am.
- APN: mobitel3g
- Website: http://www.mobitel.lk/
Hutch by Hutchison Whampoa is the 4th provider in the country giving the lowest rates for data on a reasonable coverage in the populated areas mainly. In 2018 4G/LTE was launched in the Western Province to be spread nationwide.
Hutchison has bought Etisalat in 2018 and has merged the two networks. The new entity has a combined mobile subscriber market share of around 26% making it the thrid largest provider in Sri Lanka slightly behind Mobitel.
Their SIM card is available for free or a minimal price in their stores (Store locator). Reloads are available 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. Note that speed is limited to 3.6 Mbps in Dowload and 512 Kbps in Upload only on all plans.
- Always Internet on: 27c per MB daytime (midnight - 6pm), 57c per MB nighttime (6pm - midnight). Activation: *131*4*1# - can be used as default rate
- Pocket Internet: for light and short-time use
- 24 MB until midnight, Rs. 3 activation: *131*3*1#
- 90 MB for 2 days, Rs. 14, activation: *131*3*2#
- 630 MB for 3 days, Rs. 29, activation: *131*3*3#
- 720 MB for 14 days, Rs. 89, activation: 131*3*5#
- Daytime blast: for daytime users
- 60 MB daytime (midnight - 6pm), 11 MB anytime for 2 days: Rs. 7, activation: *131*5*4#
- 125 MB daytime (midnight - 6pm), 35 MB anytime for 4 days: Rs. 17, activation: *131*5*3#
- 790 MB daytime (midnight - 6pm), 110 MB anytime for 15 days, Rs. 97, activation: *131*5*1#
- 1.85 GB daytime (midnight - 6pm), 550 MB anytime for 30 days, Rs. 197, activation: *131*5*2#
- 48 GB daytime (midnight - 6pm), 2.2 GB anytime for 30 days, Rs. 1970, activation: *131*5*6#
- Value mega internet: for medium users
- 900 MB, 100 dom minutes for 30 days: Rs. 195, activation: *131*3*7#
- 12.5 GB day use, 7 GB night use for 30 days: Rs. 998, activation: *131*6*12#
- 24 GB day use, 10 GB night use for 45 days: Rs. 1690, activation: *131*6*13#
- 36 GB day use, 10 GB night use for 45 days: Rs. 2490, activation: *131*6*15#
- Day and Night Internet: for heavy users (daytime = 9am - midnight, nighttime = midnight - 9am)
|40 MB||40 MB||2 days||Rs. 6||*131*6*1#|
|140 MB||100 MB||4 days||Rs. 18||*131*6*2#|
|245 MB||55 MB||7 days||Rs. 39||*131*6*6#|
|360 MB||150 MB||7 days||Rs. 48||*131*6*3#|
|770 MB||550 MB||14 days||Rs. 99||*131*6*4#|
|1.7 GB||1 GB||30 days||Rs. 198||*131*6*7#|
|3 GB||2.5 GB||30 days||Rs. 290||*131*6*8#|
|6 GB||5 GB||30 days||Rs. 490||*131*6*9#|
|7.7 GB||7 GB||30 days||Rs. 690||*131*6*10#|
- Ghost Internet: for night users (2am - 6am only)
- 2.4 GB for 3 nights: Rs. 45, activation: *131*7*4*1#
- 4.8 GB for 7 nights: Rs. 75, activation: *131*7*4*2#
- 12 GB for 15 nights: Rs. 175, activation: *131*7*4*3#
- unlimited for 7 nights (1am - 6am): Rs. 299, activation: *131*7*3*1#
- Non-stop Internet: with a time-limited flat rate:
- for 1 hour: Rs. 25, activation: *131*7*1*1#
- for 2 hours: Rs. 45, activation: *131*7*1*2#
- for 5 hours: Rs. 70, activation: *131*7*1*3#
- off-peak (1am to 6 pm only)
- for 1 hour: Rs. 19, activation: *131*7*2*4#
- for 2 hours: Rs. 25, activation: *131*7*2*1#
- for 4 hours: Rs. 45, activation: *131*7*2*2#
- for 10 hours: Rs. 70, activation: *131*7*2*3#
- Ghost (2am-6am) for 7 nights: Rs. 199, activation: *131*7*3*1#
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 42 Mbps and as only provider no 4G/LTE yet, only 2G and 3G.
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) and at the airport. You can get the "per second" or "per minute" plan which doesn'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 % for the final price):
|Price||Data||Night Data||App Data||Validity||Activation|
|Rs. 59||330 MB||440 MB||180 MB||5 days||D59 to 59|
|Rs. 118||1 GB||10 days|
|Rs. 119||660 MB||1 GB||14 days||D119 to 155|
|Rs. 179||1.5 GB||500 MB||14 days||*179#|
|Rs. 479||5 GB||1.5 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: N121 to 155.
Add 12.24% tax, packages must be activated on a separate SIM, to activate type *155*1*3# <call> for all packs.
Tourist SIM Edit
At the international airport, they also sell tourist SIM cards with Rs. 15 international talktime preloaded. Have in mind that for data use, Airtel is the weakest network in the country.
- APN: airtel
- Website: http://www.airtel.lk