A look at the top three telco networks in Mauritius.
The Republic of Mauritius is one of the top tourist destinations in the Indian Ocean, off the southeast coast of the African continent. If you’re visiting Mauritius on vacation, investing in a prepaid SIM card may help you cut down on costs in this remote paradise.
What follows is an overview of the three Mauritius telco networks that describes the various options and packages, along with some tips and other information that will help you choose a SIM card.
There are three operators on Mauritius:
All three offer 2G at 900 MHz, 3G at 2100 MHz and 4G/LTE at 1800 MHz. If you are visiting the islands of Rodrigues and Agalega, be aware that only Orange has 4G/LTE in these locations. If you plan on purchasing a SIM card during your trip, you will be required to show your passport for registration purposes. There are usually multiple forms to fill out as well. Some tourists report long waits for activation of both cards and data plans, so make sure to prepare for both. You can get a basic SIM card for MUR125 (AUD$4.70).
Orange is the market leader in Mauritius with the most customers and the best overall coverage. You can check out a map of its 4G/LTE coverage here. Orange’s prepaid standard SIM costs MUR125 (including a value-added tax), which buys you MUR86.96 in credit, 150 local SMS and 250MB of data. The credit is good for 100 days, the data for 7 and the SMS messages for 3.
Be advised that activation is not immediate for your data and SMS packages. You may have to wait as long as two to three working days for these services to come online, which could be a big headache.
In order to avoid additional fees for data until your plan is activated, here’s a quick hack you can use.
- Switch off mobile data before inserting the SIM card into your phone.
- When you activate the new SIM, use the MUR86.96 credit to buy an additional data package (listed below) to get a better deal on data until your original plan becomes active.
Top-up vouchers are sold at some 4,000 retailers in denominations of MUR50, MUR100 or MUR300. To top up, simply dial *124*, then the voucher code, then #. You can check your available credit and how much time is left on your plan by dialling *122#. To see how much data you have left, text the word “query” to 8684.
Orange data bundles
These data plans are available in 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE.
Text the activation code to 8684 to start a plan. To end, change the code above from “buy” to “stop” and text to 8684. All plans have unlimited access to Facebook except for watching videos. As long as you have credit available, you can purchase a plan as often as you wish.
APN: orange, and website: http://www.orange.mu
Emtel has the same 3G coverage as Orange, but its 4G/LTE network is not as robust. Its prepaid card costs MUR125 with a MUR87 credit, 50MB of data and 50 domestic SMS messages. Most convenience stores carry the cards but require you to mail in a registration form along with your passport information. It makes a lot more sense to visit an Emtel store directly.
When it’s time to top up, you can go to pretty much any convenience store for a voucher card. They are available in amounts between MUR50 and MUR200 for 50 to 120 days. Topping up is easy – just dial *121*<voucher code>#. WhatsApp and Facebook use is free and included in all prepaid plans. The following data bundles are all available on 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE.
Activate the bundles by texting the code to 8284. To check your balance, dial *122*#.
APN: web, and website: http://www.emtel.com
Chili is owned by Mahanagar Telephone Mauritius Ltd., which is a subsidiary of an Indian company. It claims to have a 4G network that started in 2015 but is more technically called 3G/HSPA+. Chili’s starter pack costs MUR125 and is sold only at its own retail centers. The starter pack comes with MUR125 credit. Top-up cards are more widespread in a number of stores, costing between MUR25 and MUR300, and offering 15 to 150 days of services. When you buy a voucher, you can top up by dialling *111*<card pin number>#. To check your available credit, dial *222#.
Chili data bundles
The default data rate for Chili is MUR1.725/MB. The following packages can significantly reduce that rate.
|Data volume||Validity||Price||Activation code|
|30MB||1 day||MUR6||act daily|
|300MB||7 days||MUR45||act weekly|
|1GB||30 days||MUR225||act 1gb|
|2GB||30 days||MUR425||act 2gb|
|5GB||30 days||MUR900||act 5gb|
|10GB||30 days||MUR1,400||act 10gb|
There are two additional rates available for heavy data users.
- Unlimited data for 7 days costs MUR517.50 with an activation code of “act data7d”. Note that after 5GB, your download speed will be throttled to 512 Kbps.
- Unlimited data for one night is good from 10pm-7am and costs MUR56.40. Purchase code is “act data1n”. The package will auto-renew if you don’t text “act net” to 8200.
APN: mtml, and website: http://www.chili.mu
Advice from TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet users on SIM cards in Mauritius
Largely known for their hotel and attraction reviews, TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet can also be vital resources for using local services in other countries. Here are some pieces of advice from the two site forums written by travellers to Mauritius.
“Orange and Emtel are the two main providers. The two main providers offer quite similar rates, but buying a SIM card for Emtel is much cheaper and easier and you can buy it in many small shops.”
“I use Orange, much better network coverage!”
“When we were in Mauritius last week, we bought an Emtel SIM card on a Sunday, but it would not activate. The next day we took it to an Emtel office and everything was fine, apparently the activation does not happen on a Sunday, but nobody except the Emtel office could inform us of this.”
“On the way to the hotel, our taxi driver said Orange is better than Emtel but the store (London Way - Mahebourg) we went to only had Emtel.”
Pros and cons of Mauritius’ top SIM card operators
Both Orange and Emtel have their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to providing SIM card services to tourists visiting Mauritius. Here’s a comparison of the two.
- Orange has outstanding 4G capability.
- Emtel’s “unlimited” plans are good bargains for heavy data users because of the currency differential to American dollars.
- Orange’s credited 250MB of data and 150 SMS take two to three days to appear after being activated.
- Buying an Emtel card at a convenience store requires you to mail in your registration and passport information.