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Mobile phone restricitons.

Edinburgh
Level Contributor
3 posts
12 reviews
Mobile phone restricitons.

Going to Lilongwe in ca. 5 weeks' time. Plusnet UK (my contract phoneco) have advised me they do not support roaming at all in Malawi. I have a spare paygo phone (Tesco mobile) and they have told me I can receive incoming calls from UK phones but won't be able to make outgoing calls or use data 'due to Malawian security restrictions'. Elsewhere it has been posted that a local SIM card would take a week to register (so not much use for a two week stay...). Does this all ring true? I'll likely need a functional mobile when I arrive so this is a bit of a problem...any advice welcome!

*restrictions, sorry...

Edited: 09 July 2018, 22:04
10 replies to this topic
Sheffield, United...
Level Contributor
3,338 posts
1. Re: Mobile phone restricitons.

Sorry, cant help, I have had no further information on the situation. Knowing how inefficient the Malawian organisation is, Its quite possible that the situation may be unchanged, as it has been postponed at least once already.

As with many things in Malawi, its a case of wait and see.

<<but won't be able to make outgoing calls or use data 'due to Malawian security restrictions'.>>

I think this is BS. or it may be a restriction due to Tesco Mobile piggy backing on one of the major service providers

In my previous post on the subject, I stated that the sim has to be registered within 7 days, and not that the sim will take 7 days, its quire possible that the sim will be activated within a short time.

The situation with regards to visitors was raised in the early days, and its possible that this has been now factored into the regulations, but it will take some actual usage to confirm the situation.

Looks like you may well be the first !

Ivan

Edinburgh
Level Contributor
3 posts
12 reviews
2. Re: Mobile phone restricitons.

Many thanks for the quick follow-up. "Looks like you may well be the first !" Eeeek! Somewhat unnerving but I'll guess I'll have to fly by the seat of my pants when I get there. If a local SIM can be up and running in a day or so, that might do the trick... Thanks again.

The Netherlands
Level Contributor
9 posts
14 reviews
3. Re: Mobile phone restricitons.

You can buy a Malawian SIMcard without having to register it. It's all prepaid. You buy a SIMcard at Airtel for 500 MKW and airtime with it. You can buy different internet bundles (daily, weekly or monthly expiry). You will find an Airtel shop at arrivals in Lilongwe.

Have a great time in Malawi!

UK
Level Contributor
436 posts
41 reviews
4. Re: Mobile phone restricitons.

Any news on this? I'll be arriving on 1st Sept, and absolutely must be contactable due to family illness back home.

According to this, every new SIM bought after July 1st would need registering straight away (while existing SIM card owners have until the end Sept). But this was written before then, so I don't know if that went ahead.

https:/…

Sheffield, United...
Level Contributor
3,338 posts
5. Re: Mobile phone restricitons.

Sorry, have asked again, but the main tourist organisation has been unable to obtain any definitive answer, so as I said, you may be the first, you can of course use your own sim, initially, if absolutely necessary, provided you have enabled roaming.

Ivan

Level Contributor
25 posts
6. Re: Mobile phone restricitons.

A local sim card takes only minutes to register. All you need is passport or any identity card. So you could buy sim at airport and have it registered.

I also think you can use your sim to make international calls. The only restrictions are to register the sim cards in use. So I find it no problem to use an international sim card.

UK
Level Contributor
436 posts
41 reviews
7. Re: Mobile phone restricitons.

Thanks both. Unfortunately it seems my UK SIM won't work in Malawi. This is my fifth trip to the country, and I haven't yet managed to use my home SIM to make calls. I could receive them on my Virgin SIM, but both Tesco and Plusnet (my new provider) had/have no arrangement with the Malawian providers, so I can't even rely on people at home contacting me.

But I'm glad registration is very quick...hopefully there won't be an issue.

Edinburgh
Level Contributor
3 posts
12 reviews
8. Re: Mobile phone restricitons.

Update: I arrived in Lilongwe last week. When I got here my UK SIM card (Plusnet, which according to Plusnet themselves would not work at all) was able to receive SMS messages (at a cost which I have yet to determine) but I could not call or message anyone, and I had no internet/data.

I have since bought a local Airtel SIM card. Yes, it had to be registered but calls and SMS was up an running within hours, and data (4G mostly) was available after about 24 h, so all good. Your smartphone will ask you to accept a small download for settings - I was suspicious at first but seems OK and once you accept the settings everything works and apart from a few Airtel advertising messages there is nothing different. Charges are cheap by UK standards, even for messages to the UK.

Hope that helps.

R.

UK
Level Contributor
436 posts
41 reviews
9. Re: Mobile phone restricitons.

Thanks for coming back with your experiences. That's really helpful stuff. Also reassuring that I can put my Plusnet SIM in my spare phone for a bit of a back up.

Sheffield, United...
Level Contributor
3,338 posts
10. Re: Mobile phone restricitons.

<< but both Tesco and Plusnet (my new provider) had/have no arrangement with the Malawian providers,>>

This is probably due to these service providers "piggy backing" on one of the main providers,

I never had any problem with Vodafone.

Its good to hear that the registration proceedure is reasonably quick, a first for Malawi !!

Ivan

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