Sri Lanka is a popular travel destination because of its location, nature, and affordability. Whether you plan on staying in Colombo or explore the jungle in the middle of nowhere, there is something for every type of traveler in Sri Lanka.
You will want to share your amazing Sri Lanka experiences on the web, and you would need a Sri Lankan SIM card for that. Sure, you could roam with your provider in Sri Lanka, but roaming can be expensive in many cases, which is why many travelers prefer to buy a local SIM card, such as a Sri Lankan one.
Moreover, mobile data rates are low in Sri Lanka compared to (South) Asian standards and the world's average.
With that said, you are interested in buying a SIM card in Sri Lanka and want to know what provider is the best. I had the same question, so I went to Colombo, Sri Lanka, and bought all Sri Lankan SIM cards, including Mobitel, besides Dialog, Hutch, and Airtel Sri Lanka, and tested them.
Let's see how my experience with Mobitel was, and how your experience could be when visiting Sri Lanka. Let's get started.
Original publication: 10th of May 2020. Last updated: 15th of January 2024.
Table of Contents
Telecom Providers in Sri Lanka
Before I talk about Mobitel, I need to inform you about your options in Sri Lanka. If you have read my Buying a SIM Card in Sri Lanka Guide, then you know what Sri Lanka has 4 Telecom Providers: Dialog, Mobitel, Hutch, and Airtel Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has no (prepaid) Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), which makes it easy to select a SIM card for your adventure in the country.
Mobitel is the mobile brand of Sri Lanka Telecom, which is one of Sri Lanka’s largest companies. Mobitel itself is the second-largest operator behind Dialog.
Mobitel is known for being cheaper than Dialog while having good coverage and speeds throughout Sri Lanka.
Let’s see how my experience with Mobitel was and whether you should consider them when visiting Sri Lanka or not.
What Frequencies does Mobitel Use?
Mobitel uses primarily Asian/European frequencies, which are:
- 2G: 900 MHz & 2100 MHz
- 3G: 2100 MHz
- 4G/LTE: 850 MHz on Band 5, 900 MHz on Band 8, 1800 MHz on Band 3, and 2100 MHz on Band 1
To learn whether your device supports these frequencies or not, go to this site to find out.
As always, make sure your phone is unlocked. Otherwise, you will not be able to use any SIM card except the one from your home operator.
How do I Buy a Mobitel Prepaid SIM Card?
You can buy a Mobitel SIM card in many Mobitel stores throughout Sri Lanka. There is also a Mobitel booth at Colombo Airport (Bandaranayake International Airport). When I was there, they only sold the most expensive plans. I do not recall whether they were only tourist plans or just a selection of costly plans.
That is why I decided to get a Mobitel SIM card at a Mobitel store so that I did not have to overpay on data.
In Sri Lanka, you have to show your passport and register it with the provider. When you buy your SIM card at a Mobitel store, the salesperson will handle all of this for you, but you do have to bring your passport with you if you intend to buy a Sri Lankan SIM card.
The Mobitel store I went to was located in a remarkable place. It looked like your typical Sri Lankan residential area. Out of nowhere, you see a large office building planted in the middle. At first, I thought it was one of Mobitel’s head offices for office employees, but I could buy my SIM card there.
A Mobitel SIM card will cost you 100 LKR. The salesperson will ask you whether you want to top-up or buy a plan. I decided to go for one of Mobitel’s Anytime plans that costs 99 LKR and comes with 786 MB and 768 MB for their 4G/LTE network for 21 days. For the money spent, that data package was a good deal.
Although I knew Mobitel offered multiple types of plans, like the Mini Internet Plans, Best Value Pre-paid Internet Plans, and Time Based Plans, the salesperson told me I could only select any of the Anytime plans, which was weird. Still, I got a plan I liked, so I did not complain.
One thing Sri Lankan operators like to do is to split your data allowance into groups. Some have anytime data, which can be used whenever, others have daytime data, nighttime data, and even 4G bonus data, which can only be used on the 4G/LTE network.
This applies to Mobitel as well, which will become clearer once I list all the data plans Mobitel offers in the package section.
I am not a fan of this system because I want to use my data whenever I want to. I do not want to worry about how much anytime/daytime/nighttime/4G data I have.
Anyway, once you have paid for your SIM card and package, you get your SIM card, insert it in your phone, and will receive an activation message like this. You may have to restart your phone before your Mobitel SIM card works, but you do not have to wait hours or days before it gets activated.
How do I Activate my Hutch SIM Card?
The Mobitel salesperson will activate your SIM card upon purchase and registration. Remember to bring your passport with you if you decide to buy a SIM card in town instead of at the airport.
What Prepaid Packages does Mobitel Offer, and How do I Activate One?
As highlighted earlier, Mobitel has a few different types of data packages to choose from, which are:
- Mini internet plans
- Anytime Plans
- Best Value Pre-paid Internet Plans
- Prepaid Daily Plans
- Time Based Plans
Let’s go through each one.
Mobitel Mini Internet Plans
The Mobitel Mini internet plans are data plans that come with anytime data, nighttime data (12 AM – 9 AM), and 4G Bonus, which is an additional data allowance for when you use Mobitel’s 4G/LTE network. They come in the following 6 variants, which can be activated by dialing #170#, sending an activation code to 7678, or reloading a certain amount:
|Text D5 to 7678
|text D29 to 7678 or reload 29 LKR
|text D49 to 7678 or reload 49 LKR
|text D99 to 7678 or reload 99 LKR
These data allowances seem to have been pulled out of thin air. That is not the case. The Sri Lankan government revised the tax for mobile communications to 12.24%. Therefore, many Sri Lankan operators increased their data allowances to give their customers the benefit of recent tax revisions, which is quite nice.
Mobitel’s Anytime Plans do not have dedicated daytime/anytime and nighttime data. You can use your data whenever you want. You do, however, get a dedicated 4G-only allowance.
Mobitel Anytime Plans
There are 3 Mobitel Anytime Plans, which can be activated by dialing #170#, option Internet Plans, and option Anytime Plans, or by sending an activation code to 7676:
|text A49 to 7676
|text A99 to 7676
|text A199 to 7676
Mobitel Best Value Pre-paid Internet Plans
Next, we have the Mobitel Best Value Pre-paid Internet Plans, which are more expensive than the previous 2 plans, but come with much more data. The plans are split up into anytime data, nighttime data (12 AM – 9 AM), and 4G Bonus. Although it says Bonus, the 4G allowance can only be used on Mobitel’s 4G/LTE network.
There are 5 Mobitel Best Value Pre-paid Internet Plans, which can be activated by dialing #170#:
Mobitel Daily Plans
You also have Mobitel Daily Plans, which are plans that renew daily. These plans come with anytime data and nighttime data (12 AM – 9 AM), which reset at midnight. You can buy the same Daily Plan multiple times, and Daily Plans can be combined. Priority will be given to the plan with the smallest data allowance. The following 5 Daily Plans are available:
|Text ACT DR5 to 7678
|Text DCT DR5 to 7678
|Text ACT DR7 to 7678
|Text DCT DR7 to 7678
|Text ACT DR9 to 7678
|Text DCT DR9 to 7678
|Text ACT DR15 to 7678
|Text DCT DR15 to 7678
|Text ACT DR25 to 7678
|Text DCT DR25 to 7678
Mobitel Time Based Plans
Finally, you have the Mobitel Time Based Plans, which are advertised as unlimited plans. However, most of these plans come with a Fair-Use Policy. Additionally, these are the only plans that are advertised without the necessary taxes included. As a result, an extra column with the total price will be inserted into the table.
The following 5 Mobitel Time Based Plans are available, which can be activated by dialing #170#:
|Price with Tax
|500 MB high-speed data, reduced to 2G speeds afterward
|1.5 GB high-speed data, reduced to 2G speeds afterward
|2.5 GB high-speed data, reduced to 2G speeds afterward
Mobitel Tourist SIM Cards
You can also get one of the 2 Mobitel Tourist SIM cards. One for 499 LKR and one for 999 LKR. These cards offer free local and international calls to mobile and fixed-line numbers, free data, and free Mobitel WIFI hours, all for 30 days. Unfortunately, Mobitel does not state their FUP policy related to all these free allowances. They do, however, have these 2 tourist offers:
- 1999 LKR: 40 GB (20 GB daytime and 20 GB nighttime) for 365 days
- 23 USD: 500 MB, 60 local minutes, 200 local SMS, 500 LKR credit for international calls, 40 international SMS, and a phone, all for 30 days
For the second plan, you can any of the regular data packages if 500 MB is not enough.
What Speeds will I Get with Mobitel in Sri Lanka?
I did 4 speed tests when I was in Sri Lanka: 3 in Colombo itself and in an area near Colombo called Labugama, where I was enjoying a secret waterfall. In Colombo, I did a speed test at my Airbnb (Colombo 5), at a Bubble Tea place called Bubble Me Bubble Tea (Colombo 5), and Colombo International Airport.
Those are some good speeds. Sure, they may not be the fastest speeds if compared to the rest world, but these are good for Sri Lankan standards. Even then, you can browse the web with ease, download large files relatively quickly, and stream videos on HD quality without (much) buffering.
The speeds in Labugama actually surprised me. The waterfall was in a remote area, and I was not expecting any coverage there. Well, I did, and the speeds were quite good.
Do I Recommend Mobitel to Travelers Visiting Sri Lanka?
I would recommend Mobitel to those visiting Sri Lanka. I got good speeds with Mobitel, and the coverage was quite good, even outside of Colombo. Sure, coverage may be nonexistent if you decide to go deep into the jungle, but that is to be expected.
Together with Dialog, Mobitel has the best coverage and speeds in Sri Lanka, which is why I recommend both in case you plan on going to rural Sri Lanka and not stay in the cities and major towns.
Getting a Mobitel SIM card was easy, so was selecting a package. I like how they have just enough packages. Not too many, like Hutch, and not too little either.
The reason why I give Mobitel 4.5 stars out of 5 is that the whole anytime data/nighttime data/4G-only data/4G Bonus data allowances are annoying and unnecessary. I know it is common with the Sri Lankan operators, but I firmly believe that one should be able to use one’s data whenever they want.
If you get a data plan that is advertised as 5 GB, you should be able to use the 5 GB whenever you feel. Not that 1.75 GB can be used anytime, 1 GB to be used between 12 AM and 9 AM, 1 GB 4G bonus, which is not a bonus and will be depleted when using 4G, and 1.25 4G-only data. Sure, this example may be a bit too much, but that is how things are in Sri Lanka.
Even then, Mobitel is an excellent operator in Sri Lanka. Although their coverage is a bit worse than the one of Dialog, the market leader, and they are also a bit slower than Dialog, Mobitel is still a good candidate, while being somewhat cheaper. As a result, Mobitel deserves their 4.5-star rating.