Anne van Kesteren

Prepaid Mobile Internet in Bolivia

Getting internet on your phone via Tigo — brand from Millicom International Cellular with decent 3G coverage — is pretty trivial, but the various ways to do so are somewhat overwhelming. This is an attempted summary of the information I have so far.

You can get a new SIM card (called “chip”) for fifteen bolivianos which includes a little over ten bolivianos of credit (you can get extra credit pretty much anywhere). I used scissors to turn the SIM card into a micro-SIM (required for e.g. an iPhone 4). I also ruined one SIM card with a knife.

(I love that you can switch SIM cards in your iPhone without turning it off. Brilliant. Tigo should work right away in your iPhone, but Apple nevertheless offers a carrier update. The update shortens the display name and removes the ability to configure APN settings. In terms of functionality nothing changed for me.)

There are four ways to enable your phone for internet access, two of which are equivalent. The simplest and probably cheapest option (although it depends on your needs) is where you text MENU (well, anything really) to 321 and follow the instructions. (Alternatively you can call *222# and follow the on-screen instructions. I had no idea text-based services can work that way.) The mebibytes you acquire this way last until midnight or when you run out of them. After that it is four bolivianos per mebibyte! Here is an overview:

Price in bolivianos (BOB)Bandwidth in MB (presumably MiB)

If you want credit that lasts for thirty days you can text MENU (well, anything really) to 1188 and follow the instructions. Here is an overview:

Price in bolivianos (BOB)Bandwidth in MB (presumably MiB)

If you rather have unlimited bandwidth you can text the message indicated in the first column below to 4646. The second column on the same row indicates the duration and the third column the price.

MessageDurationPrice in bolivianos (BOB)
HORA1 hour6
DIA1 day25
SEMANA7 days115
MES30 days350

To find out how much you have used so far text SALDO to 174. Texting SALDO to 7255 gives similar information, including the amount of bolivianos left.

3G network here in La Paz works like a charm by the way. Better than at home.