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. So which service should you go with? TVL or DigiCel?
Coverage: TVL or DigiCel - which is better?
The DigiCel coverage map. opens in Jamaica. If you zoom out you can then zoom into Vanuatu. But when I tried it there were no coverage data shown. Yachts have reported Digicel actually works really well in many remote island anchorages. But in some areas they could only get TVL.
TVL 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 be sure. Reception of the two services varies from anchorage to anchorage even on the same island.
Cost: Which is cheaper, TVL or Digicell?
Data access on your smart phone, tablet, USB dongle or WiFi Hotspot is inexpensive when compared to Internet Cafes. Both networks offer GSM, 3G and 4G+
TVL rates range from 50Vt (about AUD 0.65 cents) for one day Internet with 200MB of data and free Facebook - to 2000VT (about AUD$266) for a month of data with 3500MB of data plus free Facebook. TVL is big on Facebook If you follow TVL on facebook you'll catch their frequent "specials" like 3GB for 150VT.
Digicel rates start at 50VT for a 3 hour with 300MB of download and a one month 3500MB of data plan for 1000 Vt and a one month 8GB plan for 3000VT.
Of course you need to have a SIM card for either DigiCel or TVL.
The Digicel SIM card costs 500VT and when you call 122 to activate the SIM card you get 200MB, 200 on-net minutes, 200 on-net SMS and 200 on-net credit valid 3 days upon activation.
The TVL SIM card costs nothing - that's right, just show up at TVL and ask for a SIM card :-) Or show up at any store that sells TVL scratch refill cards and buy a Visitors Pack with a scratch renewal card and a sim card.
Answer: .Digicel is less expensive in the long run. You can top up your account with DigiCel using their App or on their website so you only pay for what you use when you use it. To use TVL, you'll need to buy scratch cards from TVL, an ANZ Bank ATM, or a TVL approved dealer. That might might be difficult depending on where you are anchored when you run low on your account. .So you'd need to buy a lot of scratch cards up front for your cruise through the islands or take the time to go hunting for TVL shops in remote places. For cruisers, Digicel is the cost winner.
The Best Choice?
Get 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. You are paying as you go so if you get to an anchorage where you have one service but not the other you can still get on line. Plus if both networks are available you could test each with a low cost 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.