Ascension_Islands

A guide to finding the best prepaid SIM card when travelling to Ascension Island

A guide to finding the best prepaid SIM card.

Ascension Island is slap bang in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, between Brazil and Africa. It is popular with tourists looking to explore and to animal watch. Using your mobile phone on Ascension Island can cost a lot of money, so to keep costs down you may want to switch to a local SIM card.

This will let you take advantage of better plans, deals and tariffs. Ascension Island has a prepaid SIM card deal for travellers as well as offers that could reduce your bills. So, whether you’re planning a quick break, an extended trip or an exploration, check finder.com.au for the best SIM card options available on Ascension Island.

Prices last updated 11 Apr 2017

Mobile phone carriers in Ascension Island

The English-speaking nation is a British colony and has one main mobile phone operator: Sure by Sure South Atlantic. It is similar to the Saint Helena Sure network, but it is run on a completely different platform.

The operator has been tried, tested and trusted by both locals and international travellers, but unless you can find SIM plans better than your existing provider, we strongly advise you to stay where you are. Sure’s MB rates can cost GBP£140 for just 1GB.

Ascension Island’s telecommunication service

Ascension Island is home to many communications and relay stations, exploiting its mid-Atlantic position. Therefore, the services you will receive are among the clearest in the world. With the BBC, Cable & Wireless, a European Space Agency tracking station, and forces radio based there, you can’t get better radio and satellite networks.

Sure offers some of the best deals out of the group of three islands, Ascension Island, Saint Helena and Tristan Da Cunha (we hadn’t heard of the last one, either), with 2G, 3G and 4G services.

Prepaid SIM cards are only available from the official store and selected outlets. These cards can be expensive if you don’t secure the right plan, so make sure you compare prices to your existing plan before switching over!

The island has no underwater cable links, so all signals are either radio or satellite, which is why their mobile phone services are more expensive than other foreign providers. Although the island is a British colony, it is not considered part of the EU, so EU roaming caps don't apply and charges can be very high for roaming.

Sure operates 2G on 900 MHz and 4G/LTE on 1800 MHz (band 3). There is no 3G service on the island, so make sure your phone is compatible with 4G otherwise you will be stuck using a very slow 2G service.

Don’t get confused by the fact that Sure operates in Saint Helena. It is run on a different platform, so roaming costs will apply. What’s more, there are hardly any roaming agreements with international providers, which is why it makes sense to buy a local SIM card here.

Sure

Sure by Sure South Atlantic offers mobile, landline and Wi-Fi services on the island. A SIM card will cost you GBP£30, which includes a credit of GBP£10, and the card is valid for 60 days. SIMs are sold at the Sure store in Georgetown as well as in supermarkets, petrol stations and at the airport. It will automatically cancel if you haven’t used it in 60 days.

Credit is available in whatever amount you wish to add and there are set plans. You can top-up your credit by dialling *177*<CODE>#. To check your balance, dial *178# and you can contact customer services by dialling 111.

Data plans:

Sure’s standard data rate is GBP£0.14 per MB, and they offer the following data plans:

  • You can get 100MB for GBP£13, and you need to dial *173*100# to purchase the plan.
  • You can get 200MB for GBP£24, and you need to dial *173*200# to purchase the plan.

Some top tips from finder.com.au staff:

  • Ascension Islanders call a SIM card a “card” or “SIM”.
  • Ask the retailer to help set-up the SIM card for you. They are official sellers and will only be too happy to help.
  • There is only one official store/service centre on the island, but try and make a visit there to get help and advice on the best options.

Pros and cons of Ascension Island’s telco provider

Sure requires you to have a SIM-unlocked GSM compatible international mobile phone. To double check if you have this option, or if it’s possible to unlock your device, contact your provider before you set off on your travels.

Pros:

  • Prepaid credit when required
  • No in-store contract needed
  • Could be compatible with your current mobile phone

Cons:

  • No mobile phone devices offered with the SIM card packages
  • Can only be used on SIM-unblocked GSM phones
  • There’s only one service centre on the island
  • Ascension Island data plans can be expensive

Do you have more questions about finding the best SIM?

Q: What if my mobile phone provider has better options?

A: Due to being run on a satellite service, Sure’s roaming rates can be quite high. However, compare their prices with your own because they might turn out to be cheaper. The reason we suggest using Sure’s prepaid SIM card while in Ascension Island is because the network doesn’t hold roaming agreements with many international providers. Therefore, although your plan might be cheaper, your phone might not be able to pick up a roaming service at all!

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