The Republic of the Sudan a.k.a. 'Sudan' makes up the northern part of a country which in 2011 was separated to form the new state of South Sudan. This article is only for the northern part. 3/4 of the former population live in the north, where mobile market penetration is far higher. The country has a relatively well-equipped telecommunications infrastructure by regional standards, including a national fibre optic backbone and international fibre connections.
Providers and market
The economy has performed poorly in recent years, partly due to the effects of having lost much of its oil reserves to South Sudan and partly due to domestic volatility and social unrest. As a consequence the market shrinked: The number of mobile phone subscribers in the Sudan dropped to 27.9 million in 2016 from 28.3 million in 2015 and the number of internet users declined to 9.9 million subscribers from 11.4 million.
Three GSM-based operators are present:
- Zain Sudan (Kuwait based)
- Sudani by Sudatel (partly state-owned)
- MTN Sudan (South Africa based)
A fourth wireless provider is Canar Telecom, which was majority-owned by Etisalat until they sold their interest to the Bank of Khartoum in mid-2016. The operator opted to adopt CDMA technology to cost-effectively roll out fixed services which is incompatible to GSM. In April 2017 Canar secured spectrum in the 2300 MHz band to launch TD-LTE services which are focused on home use. That's why they are not mentioned any further.
For the three GSM providers 2G/GSM is on 900 and 1800 MHz, 3G on 2100 MHz and 4G/LTE started with all three providers on 1800 MHz (band 3).
The phone signal across the country is good for voice calls, in major towns the internet is good, once outside the quality drops significantly but does work very slowly.
Availability and registration
If you have an unlocked GSM phone, you can use a local SIM card purchased from one of the three providers. It's an easy process done in their stores. From 2014 all SIM cards need to be registered at the point of purchase. All unregistered SIM cards have been blocked. For this registration you need paper copies of your passport and passport photos which you may bring along to speed things up. Then you only have to fill out a form or have it done for you.
New SIM cards are sold from 3 to 7 Sudanese pounds. To top-up you can buy credit at many shops and street corners in the form of scratch cards.
Internet and censorship
Outside of the capital you can only find internet access in towns. Connection speed varies and makes downloads unpredictable. VoIP calls sound often more like going through radio. Internet is monitored and censored by the governement. In times of unrest social media or all internet have been cut off. The Sudanese government openly acknowledges blocking and filtering websites that it considers “immoral” and “blasphemous.”
Websites and prices
Don't trust the English versions of any website linked below, always read in conjunction with the Arabic via Google Translate or similar. Local conditions may always be different from what it says on any website.
Prices are given in the local currency Sudanese Pound (SDG) often shortened to SD. All mentioned prices are without taxes. So add 31% (!) tax for the final price.
Zain Sudan, formerly Mobitel Sudan, is the biggest mobile telephone network operator by subscribers in the Sudan with more than 11 million customers. 2G coverage is found in populated areas and 3G in towns.
Zain was awarded a 4G/LTE license by local regulator NTC in February 2016. Later that year it has become the first operator to launch LTE services. 4G network coverage can be found across the capital Khartoum, Medani, Port Sudan and El Obeid to reach around 20% of the population. Almost 300 4G sites have already been switched on, spreading to 21 towns and cities by 2017.
SIM cards are available in their shops (locator). They contain 1000 seconds for calls, 500 SMS and 250 MB. They come in three different plans: Zain Shabab, Zain eeZee and Zain Class. These plans doesn't make a difference for data.
With Zain Class you can keep your number without using it for 6 months at SDG 60 (*118*6#), for 9 months at SDG 90 (*118*9#) or 12 months at SDG 120 (*118*12#). To reactivate enter *118*0#.
Data feature packages
Zain has different plans without and including 4G/LTE:
|3G Data Packages:||Activation codes|
|Data||Time||Price||for Shabab||for eeZee||for Class|
|25 MB||1 day||SDG 1||*230*1#||*110*1#|
|40 MB||SDG 1.5||*220*1#|
|100 MB||SDG 3.5||*220*2#||*230*2#||*110*2#|
|250 MB||SDG 8||*220*3#|
|200 MB||1 week||SDG 6.5||*230*3#||*110*3#|
|300 MB||SDG 9.5||*220*4#|
|500 MB||SDG 15.5||*220*5#||*230*4#||*110*4#|
|1 GB||SDG 30.5||*220*6#|
|1.5 GB||1 month||SDG 45.5||*230*5#||*110*5#|
|2 GB||SDG 59||*220*7#|
|5 GB||SDG 140||*220*8#||*230*6#||*110*6#|
|10 GB||SDG 200||*220*9#|
|4G/LTE Data Packages:|
|16 GB||1 month||SDG 400||*220*10#||*230*8#||*110*8#|
For final price add 31% taxes.
- APN: internet
- Website in English: https://www.sd.zain.com/English/pages/home.aspx
Sudani (by Sudatel)
Sudani is the mobile arm of Sudatel Group (STG) of Companies in the Sudan. Sudatel is the biggest telecommunications and internet service provider in the Sudan. It was partly privatized in 1993, but is still majority owned by the government. It's mobile arm Sudani is the no.2 in the country.
2G and 3G is similar to Zain. 4G/LTE was started in 2017 with LTE-A from the start. Coverage is initially available in the greater Khartoum area, but the network will be expanded to other major towns and cities during the year.
Their SIM card can be bought in their shops. To-ups can be made by vouchers sold in many shops.
Data feature packages
Default rate is SDG 0.225 per 5 MB. Like Zain Sudani has different 3G and 4G packages:
|3G data packages: Sudani Connect (max. 7.2 Mbps)|
|120 MB||14 days||SDG 7||*4*5#|
|500 MB||30 days||SDG 12.5||*4*6#|
|1 GB||SDG 22||*4*7#|
|5 GB||SDG 80||*4*8#|
|10 GB||SDG 100||*4*9#|
|25 GB||SDG 230||*4*10#|
|4G/LTE data packages: 4G Advance (max. 150 Mbps)|
|2 GB||7 days||SDG 40||*4*102#|
|5 GB||15 days||SDG 100||*4*105#|
|15 GB||SDG 250||*4*115#|
|30 GB||30 days||SDG 400||*4*130#|
|50 GB||SDG 550||*4*150#|
|100 GB||SDG 900||*4*1100#|
To all prices add 31% taxes.
- APN: sudaninet
- Website in English: http://sudani.sd/PublicOne
MTN Sudan based in South Africa is the smallest provider of the trio with more than 3 million customers. Its coverage is a bit lower than those of the others and 4G/LTE started in 2018 in Khartoum using 1800 Mhz (band 3).
Their SIM card is sold in their stores (list).
Data feature packages
Default data is SDG 0.02 per 10 KB. MTN in Sudan has two different lines of data packages: unlimited packs with a max. speed and regular data packs:
|Unlimted internet packages:|
|42 Mbps||1 hour||SDG 0.6||*123*13#|
|1 Mbps||1 day||SDG 1||*123*1#|
|10 Mbps||SDG 4.5||*123*34#|
|1 Mbps||7 days||6 SGD||*123*7#|
|1 Mbps||30 days||SDG 25||*123*30#|
|42 Mbps||SDG 95||*123*35#|
|Volume based data packages:|
|20 MB||24 hours||SDG 0.76||*123*20#|
|45 MB||SDG 1.5||*123*45#|
|95 MB||SDG 3||*123*95#|
|250 MB||7 days||SDG 8||*123*250#|
|500 MB||10 days||SDG 15||*123*500#|
|1 GB||30 days||SDG 30||*123*1024#|
|3 GB||SDG 80||*123*3072#|
|5 GB||60 days||SDG 130||*123*5120#|
|10 GB||SDG 250||*123*10240#|
|20 GB||90 days||SDG 470||*123*20480#|
For the final price add 31% taxes.
- APN for prepaid: internet
- Website in English: https://www.mtn.sd/home/