How to set up a local SIM card on the Cocos Islands (Keeling Islands)
Buy a local SIM card to reduce your roaming rates.
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The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are an overseas territory of Australia. Positioned in the Indian Ocean midway between Australia and Sri Lanka, the islands are popular with tourists looking to explore and watch the wildlife. Using your phone there can be expensive, so to keep costs down, why not switch to a local SIM card and take advantage of better plans, deals and tariffs? The Cocos (Keeling) Islands have a prepaid SIM card available for tourists with offers that could reduce your bills. Whether you’re planning a quick break, an extended trip or an island hop, check out the best SIM card offers available.
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- Get cheaper data
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There is only one main phone operator in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands: Indian Ocean Territories Telecom (IOTT). There are also hotspots dotted around the islands, and Wi-Fi vouchers can be purchased to take advantage of a better signal. IOTT has been tried and tested by both locals and international visitors, and can be trusted. Coverage can be weak in some parts, but this will happen on any phone or network you use there.
About the Cocos (Keeling) Islands telco service
IOTT only operates on a 2G/GSM network without any data services, and this can be extremely restrictive. There are no roaming partnerships with international carriers, so using IOTT could be the only way to use a phone there. SIM cards can be purchased without registration, but some retailers will ask to see your passport and hotel address. Your telephone number is already activated when the SIM is purchased.
IOTT SIM cards are only available from the Cocos Islands Community Resource Centre (CRC) on West Island, which is open Monday to Friday, 8am-3pm, and Saturday, 10am-3pm. It’s possible to arrange a SIM card delivery to your hotel if you pre-book it through the concierge service. There are handset rentals to take advantage of the IOTT voice and SMS-only SIM cards and Wi-Fi hotspots.
IOTT’s website: http://cocos.cc/
Wi-Fi vouchers can also be purchased from the CRC and are sold for durations of time, not data usage. Speeds are very slow on all islands, and it might take you some time to get online anywhere.
- 1 hour – AUD$6.95
- 1 day – AUD$19.95
- 1 week – AUD$64.95
Wi-Fi hotspots are available at the following locations: Maxie’s By The Sea, Cocos (Keeling) Islands Community Resource Centre, Cocos Club, Cocos Beach Motel, Cocos Cottages, Cocos Village Bungalows, My Island Home, The Donga Cocos Castaway and the main area on Direction Island.
Some top tips from finder.com.au staff:
- Locals call a SIM card a “card” or “SIM”.
- Ask the retailers to set up the SIM card for you. They are official sellers and will be very happy to help.
- There are limited stores on the island. Try and visit an official store or ask your hotel concierge to organise a SIM card or voucher for you.
TripAdvisor tips for the best SIM cards and where to buy them
“You can buy internet usage (WiFi) or use their computers for a small fee around AUD$5 for 30 mins, watch DVDs on the Islands, hire a phone and buy SIM card as your own phone will not have coverage there.”
“The Visitor Center doubles as a Community Center with computer terminals with Internet access and a quiet space to read.”
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Pros and cons of IOTT
IOTT requires you to have a SIM-unlocked, GSM-compatible international phone. To double check you have this option, or whether it’s possible to unlock your device, contact your provider before you set off on your travels.
- Prepaid credit when required
- No in-store contract needed
- Could be compatible with your current phone
- Handsets can be rented
- No phone devices offered with the SIM card packages
- Can only be used on SIM-unlocked GSM phones
- There are limited stores on the islands
- 2G/GSM only
- No data roaming, so Wi-Fi hotspots must be used
Another question about finding the best SIM?
Q: What if my provider has better options?
A: IOTT has no options available for other providers to roam on its network. It’s highly advisable to purchase a local SIM card while you’re there because you will not be able to use your phone at all otherwise.
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