Internet In Vanuatu - How to Get Internet while cruising in Vanuatu.
Vanuatu has two mobile services, TVL and DigiCel. Both are great in Port Vila and the service varies considerably when out in the islands. Things were looking good until Pam wiped out so many mobile stations in the out islands; hopefully services will be back to normal this coming cruising season; but don't count on it. So which service should you go with? TVL or DigiCel?Coverage: TVL or DigiCel - which is better?
TVL does not give a coverage map on their website but claims to reach 75% of the population with GSM from the Banks Islands down to Aneityum. I've seen a map showing coverage and we have it on the cruising guide to Vanuatu - but I have no idea how much you can rely on it. Apparently service varies considerably from day to day in some areas.
Answer: Can't say for sure.Cost:
Data access on your smart phone, tablet, USB dongle or WiFi Hotspot is inexpensive when compared to Internet Cafes but it is also slower. Both networks offer GSM and 3G but you'd better count on GSM being the norm when you are cruising anywere but Port Vila and possibly Luganville. So it isn't going to be fast but you are buying MB of download, not hours so that's OK.
TVL rates range from 50VT (about AUD 0.60 cents) for one day Internet with 75MB of data and free Facebook - to 2000VT (about AUD$25) for a month of data with 4500MB of data plus free Facebook.
DigiCel has a similar one day 50VT plan with 50MB of download but the one month 4500MB of data plan costs more than double the TVL plan at 4,500 VU.
Of course you need to have a SIM card for either DigiCel or TVL.
The DigiCel SIM card costs 500VT and you get 800MB, 800 minutes, 800 SMS and 800VT credit over 4 months!
The TVL SIM card costs nothing - that's right, just show up at TVL and ask for a SIM card :-)
Answer: Cost is the same for minor use, TVL is cheaper for heavy use. On the other hand, you can top up your account with DigiCel using their App or on their website while with TVL you'll need to buy scratch cards from TVL, an ANZ Bank ATM, or a TVL approved dealer - which might be a bit difficult to find depending on where you are anchored.
The Best Choice?
I'd suggest getting both a TVL and a DigiCel SIM card; maybe have two smart phones or have the one SIM in a tablet or WIFI modem and the other in your smart phone, or have one phone with two sim cards. Since you are paying as you go if you get to an anchorage in Ambrym where you have DigiCel but no TVL you can still get on line. Plus if both networks are available you could test each with a low cost one day or one hour plan to see which one actually works better. And if your TVL account gets used up while cruising, you could switch to DigiCel and top up that account online.
Stop your computer uploading and downloading in the background
Windows 10 and several programs constantly upload and download data without your knowing about it or letting you stop this abuse of your expensive mobile data limits.
Mac computers also do Gigabytes of downloads automatically. In addition to slowing up your browsing the end result will often require updating lots of other apps. Here's how to stop your Mac from downloading and uploading in the background while you are cruising.
Here's what you need to get Internet (or voice) while cruising.
1. An UNLOCKED Android or IPhone smart phone, tablet, WiFi modem or USB 3g dongle.
2. The smartphone, tablet or USB key must have 2G/3G WCDMA Band: 8 (900 MHz E-GSM) (Normal for Australia, New Zealand and Europe - not for US or Japanese phones).
The phone or tablet or WiFi hotspot has to be unlocked or you won't be able to use it in Vanuatu.. A phone bought from a telco and most retail phone stores will be locked to a particular telecom and it won't work with any other sim card.
If you want to make sure your phone will work in Vanuatu (providing it is unlocked) visit http://willmyphonework.net/
3. A pay-in-advance SIM card package (either DigiCel or TVL or both).
4. To set up your phone once you've installed the SIM card read the instructions that come with the SIM card.
5. Your phone will work as a phone right away but whenever you want to get on the Internet you need to dial a number and specify which plan you want to buy.
For example, with TVL you dial *183# then select from the menu or you can send a text to 183 with the buy keyword (like buy 50)
With DigiCel you dial *155# and select the name of the "bundle" you want.