A guide to finding the best prepaid SIM card when travelling to Guam
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Once a pivotal point of US military defense, the island nation of Guam has become a tourist haven for Americans and Japanese citizens alike. Because of its extreme distance from the United States, a vacation to Guam can be an expensive one. So being able to cut costs on certain expenditures is the ideal way to get the most bang for your buck and enjoy this international vacation to the fullest. You can buy 1GB of data from a leading telco provider for as little as US$10 (AUD12.50).
A smart tip for lowering your travel costs is to make use of Guam prepaid SIM cards as opposed to using your own phone provider. Several brands either do not operate in Guam or have high roaming charges because Guam is considered an international destination.
You can buy a Guam tourist SIM card, swap it out with the one in your existing phone, and use it to make calls locally during your stay.
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There are four main providers in Guam: GTA Teleguam, iConnect, IT&E and DoCoMo. All four have loyal customer bases and different strengths so we’ll describe each of them, to help you make the best decision for your needs.
This provider was originally Pulse Mobile, but was sold to Indonesian Telkom in 2015, and then renamed GTA Teleguam to be more reflective of the area it covers. At present, it only covers the island of Guam, not any of its neighbors such as Saipan, located about an hour’s flight to the north.
Teleguam offers 2G and 3G/HSPA on 850MHz and 1900MHz, and 4G/LTE on 1700MHz. Approximately 95% of its service area is covered by LTE.
Teleguam SIM starter kits are in a 3-in-1 package, with a mini-SIM which contains removable micro- and nano-SIM cards. If you need refills, known in Guam as top-ups, they are available at multiple locations across the island, including American military bases, retails stores and most grocery stores. Typically, the cost of a new startup SIM card package ranges between $15 and $20 and comes with five free days of usage as an incentive.
The default data rate is $0.10 / MB for Teleguam and there’s a $3 daily plan that gives you unlimited data for a 24-hour period. Teleguam offers five monthly data plans depending on how much data you’ll be accessing as well as how many local calls you plan on making.
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Current GTA Teleguam data packages
In 1999, iConnect bought out Motorola’s radio network covering Guam and Saipan. It later added coverage to Tinian and Rota. iConnect’s signature feature is Nationwide Minutes, which allows users to call all 50 states in the US for the price of a local call. iConnect promotes itself as the first all-digital push-to-talk service on Guam and the first to extend that service to Saipan, Tinian and Rota.
iConnect packages three SIM cards together in the iConnect Advanced 4G SIM which is sold at any of iConnect’s four Guam locations. The charge is $15 and cards can be refilled with either credit cards or vouchers. Data on the 4G/LTE network is at speeds up to 21Mbps for downloads and 5Mbps for uploads.
Current iConnect data packages
- Unlimited data for 1 day until 3am: $1.50
- 4G data and unlimited local calls/texts for 1 day: $2.25
- Unlimited data for 7 days: $10
- Unlimited data for 30 days: $35
It’s up to the customer to cancel the daily data plan before 3am the next day otherwise the service will auto-renew. The weekly 7-day and 30-day plans do not auto-renew and you will receive warnings to renew them starting about 48 hours prior to the end of the term.
This is the third incarnation of this company, which began as PTI on Guam and CNMI in the Northern Mariana Islands. IT&E also maintains the submarine cable as well as the phone networks connecting Guam, Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. IT&E varies from the other three Guam-based SIM providers in that its network is on a CDMA-standard, meaning it’s non-compatible to GSM devices in most cases. US products Sprint, Verizon and US Cellular use CDMA networks, while AT&T and T-Mobile do not.
In 2014, IT&E began 4G/LTE coverage for both systems at 700MHz, but has no available coverage for 2G/3G GSM customers. The SIM card costs $19.95 and comes with $10 already loaded for future purchases. The GSM 4G SIM Card is available at IT&E’s storefront locations in Guam, as is the CDMA activation.
Current IT&E data packages
- 500MB for 7 days: $5
- 1GB for 7 days: $10
- 3GB for 7 days: $20
- 10GB for 14 days: $50
DoCoMo Pacific is a subsidiary of Japan’s NTT DoCoMo and is the largest provider of both entertainment and telecommunications for Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the military installations that call that part of the South Pacific home. DoComo is the leading Guam Internet provider, headquartered in Tamuning, Guam, and was originally a merger of HafaTel and Guamcell Communications. Acquired by NTT DoCoMo in 2006, it started Guam’s first 3.5G network in 2011 and has since added a 4G HSPA+ network and a 4G LTE service.
DoCoMo carries 2G service at 1900 MHz, 3G/UTMS at 850MHz and 4G/LTE at 700MHz. The coverage area includes Guam, Saipan, Rota and Tinian.
DoCoMo’s prepaid SIM cards are sold inside its eight stores on Guam. The starter kit costs $19.95 and includes $10 pre-loaded credit for purchases.
DoCoMo has different data packages for 4G LTE Rates and its shorter-term “UNLI!” packages. It also has a default rate of $0.10 per MB of data. The 4G LTE packages all have hard and fast data limits, while the UNLI! offerings claim unlimited data. However, the company’s terms and conditions for data state that if you exceed data usage limits, your data service will be reduced to 256kbps download speed for the remainder of the billing period. The company does not offer any indication of what its data usage limits are for the UNLI! Packages.
Current DoCoMo Packages for 4G LTE
- 250MB for 1 day: $2.95
- 750MB for 3 days: $8.50
- 1.5GB for 7 days: $18.95
- 3GB for 14 days: $35.95
Current DoCoMo UNLI! Rates
- Unlimited Voice, Data, and SMS for 1 day: $2.95
- Unlimited Voice, Data, and SMS for 3 days: $8.00
- Unlimited Voice, Data, and SMS for 5 days: $13.00
- Unlimited Data for 1 day: $1.95
- Unlimited Data for 3 days: $5.50
- Unlimited Data for 5 days: $9.00
While many people only think about Yelp when it comes to rating local restaurants and other businesses, the website’s user forums are also an outstanding resource for “on the ground” advice from people with first-hand experience of the SIM card market in Guam. Here are some Yelp user tips:
- “GTA seems to be the best of the bunch.”
- “GTA. They have a plan which includes calls to the US mainland.”
- “CMDA – IT&E is the best. SIM – DoCoMo beats GTA.”
- “If you call the States a lot, iConnect has free long distance. DoCoMo and GTA have the best service.”
The four main SIM card providers in Guam all offer 4G/LTE networks and have flexible data and phone call/text plans available. However, not all of them spell out specific details about data limits or when data plans end.
- Most can be used in Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
- Variety of data plans available.
- Most are compatible with GSM network phones.
- 4G/LTE networks.
- Some unexplained data limits.
- Requires in-store purchase.
An additional question about finding the best SIM
Q: My phone operates on the CDMA network. Is there a CMDA provider in Guam?
A: Yes. IT&E offers CDMA networks, so if you are a customer of Sprint, Verizon and US Cellular, you can purchase an activation card locally in Guam.
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