Operators and frequencies
Uruguay has 3 mobile operators:
- Antel (state-owned)
- Movistar (by Telefónica)
- Claro (by América Móvil)
Coverage and speed are pretty good for Latin American standards. But frequencies are very diverse. While Antel has 2G and 3G on "European bands", Movistar and Claro use "American frequencies". In 2017 new spectrum was auctioned to all three operators to be used for 4G/LTE, see table below:
|Operator||2G (EDGE)||3G (HSPA+)||4G (LTE)|
|Antel||1800 MHz||850, 2100 MHz||700, 1700 MHz (Bands 4, 28)|
|Movistar||850, 1900 MHz||850, 1900 MHz||700, 1700, 1900 MHz (Bands 2, 4, 28)|
|Claro||1900 MHz||1900 MHz||700, 1700 MHz (Bands 4, 28)|
You can now use your own device together with a Uruguayan SIM card registering at a kiosk or store when you buy the card. Previously, the device was required to be declared at customs. This is no longer obligatory. For purchasing a Uruguayan SIM card in a shop, you must still show your passport (in original as any copies are not accepted) and formerly had to give a local address, which is also not mandatory anymore.
Antel stands for Administración Nacional de Telecomunicaciones, the state-owned, national provider of telecommunication. It has a monopoly for landlines, but on mobile networks, it competes with Movistar and Claro. Still, it's the market leader with 53% of all cellular customers and the best network in the country: 2G/3G/4G Coverage Map (change systems on top right). 3G now covers about 90% of population. 4G/LTE started in 2011 and is available for prepaid without surcharge, but is more limited so far.
Their prepaid SIM card is called Chip Prepago and available for $ 65 containing a $ 200 credit in their shops and sales outlets: Antel Shop Locator.You can buy a SIM card in an Antel shop in Montevideo airport, right after you exit customs.
Recharges can be made there and everywhere where you spot the Antel logo, including Redpagos, Abitab and HoyJuega. Top-ups have a life from 5 to 120 days according to top-up amount. Incoming calls expire 180 days after a 30-day top-up and 365 days after a 60-day top-up.
WhatsApp is free when you top up at least $ 140 every omnth.
Since 2018, their money and data balances are merged, so top-ups can be used for calls, SMS and data with no further action:
|$ 50||3 GB||24 hours||once-off||DIA|
|$ 165||3 GB||7 days||once-off||SEMANA|
|$ 140||700 MB||30 days||once-off||top-up|
|$ 165||1 GB||30 days||recurring||ALTA TOTAL|
|$ 200||1 GB||60 days||once-off||top-up|
|$ 300||1.5 GB||90 days||once-off||top-up|
|$ 500||2.5 GB||120 days||once-off||top-up|
To check data balance text SALDO to 226. For activation text code to 226. To stop recurring bundles, text BAJA TOTAL to 226.
Antel released tourist SIM cards that are sold exclusively to visitors in their stores. You will need to show your foreign passport. These starter options are sold:
- 1 GB for 1 day (= 24 hours): $ 150
- 40 GB for 7 days: $ 1000
- LTE WiFi Hotspot router and 40 GB for 7 days: $ 2900
For more data you can top-up and add their usual packages.
- APN: antel.lte
- Username and password: BAM
- Website in Spanish: http://www.antel.com.uy
Movistar by Spanish Telefónica is the second provider in the country with a 34% share. It has good coverage on "American" frequencies (see above). 3G coverage is about 50%, 4G/LTE has started in Montevideo and is given out for free when you have a 4G SIM card. 2G/3G/4G coverage map.
Their prepaid SIM card is called Movistar Prepago and available in their shops and sales outlets: Movistar Shop Locator You can order online (Pedí tu chip) to an Uruguayan address. The delivery is free, but the SIM costs $ 60 (discounted on first recharge).
Recharges can be made there and everywhere, where you spot the Movistar logo. You can send a free SMS to 944 with the word DONDE and they text you the nearest locations. Top-ups are $ 20 to $ 1000 giving 7-90 days of credit depending on value.
Their Chip prepago offers discounted rates to certain Movistar numbers (according top-up), no data included. Minimum top-up: $ 50 in 15 days. Free WhatsApp is included.
Data feature packs
Internet is by default on the daily rate: 25 MB per calendar day (until 11.59 pm) for $12.90.
For more data, you should choose a combo package called Paquetes de Internet:
|3 GB||100 mins||1 day||$ 45||1 DIA|
|3 GB||100 mins||5 days||$ 105||5 DIAS|
|3 GB||100 mins||10 days||$ 175||10 DIAS|
|3 GB||100 mins||15 days||$ 215||15 DIAS|
|15+30* GB||7 days||$ 250||by app|
(*) = 45 GB with 15 GB daytime and 30 GB nightime use
To activate, download app "Mi Movistar" or text code to 888. Paquetes de internet are not auto-renewed.
Their auto-renewed option is called "Preplan":
- 6 GB at day + 12 GB at night: $ 149 for 7 days; activation text: 'ALTA DUO 7' to 888, deactivation text' BAJA DUO 7' to 888
- 3 GB, unlimited mins/SMS on-net, 25 mins/100 SMS off-net, $ 215 for 7 days; activation: text 'PREPLAN SUPER' to 888
- 4 GB, unlimited mins/SMS on-net, 40 mins/150 SMS off-net, $ 315 for 7 days; activation: text 'PREPLAN ULTRA' to 888
- APN: webapn.movistar.com.uy
- Username and password: movistar
- Website in Spanish: http://www.movistar.com.uy
Claro by Mexican América Móvil is the smallest network in the country on "American" frequencies (see above) and a 13% market share. 4G started in 2014 in Montevideo and has spread to other towns. So make check network, before you buy a SIM card or check their 2G/3G/4G coverage map.
The prepaid SIM card called "Chip Claro Tajetero" is sold for $ 40 with lots of bonuses and freebies in kiosks and their shops. Claro Shop Locator . Top-ups can be made there from $ 20-300 valid from 3 to 21 days respectively. For top-ups they give out heavy data bonuses:
- top-up $100-190: 200 MB for 10 days
- top-up >$200: 400 MB for 15 days
To check your balance, enter *888 or send an empty SMS to 888. Free WhatsApp is included.
Internet beyond the data bonuses is on the daily rate: 50 MB per calendar day (until 11.59 pm) for $15. Using more than 50 MB per day, the rate is $0.30 per MB.
Data packages - need activation (prices in pesos uruguayos):
|$ 30||500 MB||24 hours||500MEGA|
|$ 40||1 GB||24 hours||1GIGA|
|$ 50||1 GB||2 days||2DIAS|
|$ 60||1 GB||3 days||3DIAS|
|$ 80||3 GB||3 days||3GIGA|
|$ 80||2 GB||5 days||5DIAS|
|$ 95||1 GB||7 days||1GBX7|
|$ 130||3 GB||7 days||7DIAS|
|$ 170||3 GB||10 days||10DIAS|
|$ 210||3 GB||15 days||15DIAS|
To activate, dial *989# or text code above to 454. All packages include free WhatsApp traffic.
For roaming in Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina and the US Claro sells these discounted packages:
- 300 MB for 7 days: $ 100, activation: text '300MB' to 252
- 1 GB for 30 days: $ 250, activation: text '1GB' to 252
- APN: internet
- Username: ctiweb
- Password ctiweb999
- Website in Spanish: http://www.claro.com.uy