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Guide to getting mobile internet in Nepal

From Nepal sim cards to wifi

What internet is available - mobile internet - wifi - locations - tips

What are the types of internet available in Nepal?

Nepal's internet infrastructure is booming and struggling at the same time. Over the past few years mobile base stations are spreading out across the country, new telecome providers are starting and wifi options are growing.

However Nepal's chronic electricity shortages and bad infrastructure are hampering internet connectivity. Expect frequent outages and slow speeds. However using a combination of WiFi, MiFi and mobile can see you get most tasks done.

Mobile internet providers in Nepal

Nepal telecom (NTC): The national telecom company. You can now purchase a pre-paid NTC sim card that offers CDMA and 4G. You'll need a passport photo and a photocopy of your passport ID page. Internet is not that great though. But it does have the widest coverage.

Ncell: Formally known as Mero Mobile 50% of the company was sold to a Russian Telecom then in 2016 to a Malaysian company and it's now the premier mobile company in Nepal. To get a sim card you can go into any small corner store. Have a copy of your passport and sign up to get a card straight away. They cost 50 rupees. Avoid the expensive "tourist sim". In 2017 they started offering 4G in most major cities.

Smart Cell: This company has been around a while but never really took off. However in 2017 they rapidly began to expand and now offer 4g services in Nepals major cities at good rates. It's not a great card to take trekking though as coverage is more limitied than the others.

Ncell Mobile internet charges in Nepal:

Ncell offer the following mobile internet charges.

Package Price Validity How to subscribe? Charge after package is over#  (for Prepaid)
3MB Rs. 6 24 hours Dial *99091# Rs. 6/ MB
10MB Rs. 30 30 days Dial *99092# Rs. 6/ MB
40MB Rs. 99 30 days Dial *99093# Rs. 4/ MB
100MB Rs. 199 30 days Dial *99094# Rs. 4/ MB
300MB Rs. 299 30 days Dial *99095# Rs. 4/ MB
500MB Rs. 399 30 days Dial *99096# Rs. 2/ MB
1GB Rs. 699 30 days Dial *99097# Rs. 2/ MB
5GB Rs. 1999 30 days Dial *99098# Rs. 2/ MB
10GB Rs. 2999 30 days Dial *99099# Rs. 2/ MB

The above prices do not include 13% VAT.* Ncell mobile internet rates

NTC mobile internet packages in Nepal

Package Price Validity
10 MB Rs.8 2 days
50 MB 35 10 days
200 MB 130 1 month
500 MB 300 1 month
1 GB 500 1 month
3 GB 1,290 2 months
5 GB 1,800 3 months
10 GB 2,800 6 months

Smart Cell internet charges in Nepal:

Smart Cell offer the following mobile internet charges.

MRP Data Volume Validity
499 10GB 30 days
399 5GB 30days
229 3GB 15 days
146 2GB 7days
31 500 MB 24Hrs

The above prices do not include 13% VAT * NTC Mobile internet rates

I should point out that NTC data consumption in not accurate by far compared to NCELL or Smart Cell. On average when a phones own monitoring system records 600MB consumed NTC say 1GB has been consumed. So watch out!

MIFI internet in Nepal

There are an increasing number of USB dongles and mini-WiFi masts becoming available with "high speed" or "broadband" internet packages. Sadly it's not that good and they simply use mobile data speeds.

Nepal Telecom's EVDO (skypro) offers a USB stick for 2200 rupees. The packages then costs 2 GB - 760 rupees, 5 GB - 1700 rupees and 10 GB - rupees 2,400.

Again, don't expect the promised 3MB speed. Expect everything from 10kb to 1MB.

To purchase one ask around in mobile stores rather than Nepal Telecom offices.


4G in Nepal

NTC offer the best 4G coverage in Nepal however it is limited to the Kathmandu Valley and Pokhara. NTC, have a horrible track record of using up more of your data than your phone says you've used.

NCELL released their 4G network throughout the Kathmandu Valley. It's also active in Pokhara. The speed is not so great but at least the data consumption is accurate.

Smart Cell have 4G in Kathmandu city, Patan, Bhaktapur and Pokhara.

WIFI internet in Nepal

WIFI in Hotels: Many hotels and guesthouses in Nepal offer free WiFi as standard. It is however very important to find out if your accommodation with free WiFi also has a generator in case of an electricity outage.

Generally speaking accommodation WiFi is around the 512kb - 1mb. In recent years guesthouse WiFi has increased, but the networks have failed to keep up with the demand which results in slow speeds.

WIFI in Cafes: There are plenty of Internet Cafes in Nepal. Very few have WIFI. Most use password controlled desktop computers. Telephone calls using Skype are generally possible. However computer viruses are very commonplace so exercise caution when using memory cards.

A few internet cafes allow ethernet cables for laptops but it's rare.

Charges range from 25 rupees per hour to 120rupees (tourist areas)

Buy your own WIFI mast: If you are planning to spend some time in Nepal then you might consider purchasing your own dedicated WiFi mast. They are not all that big and are available from many of the WiFi companies in Nepal.

Where to find internet in Nepal?

Generally speaking you'll find WiFi in all tourist destinations. In particular Thamel in Kathmandu and Lakeside in Pokhara which will have the fastest connections.

Mobile internet is available in all major towns. When trekking don't expect internet. However you might be surprised where it does pop up. There is for example a mobile base station near Everest Base Camp. Though it's not always working!

Do not expect to stream YouTube or download anything anywhere in Nepal with ease using WiFi. Using a mobile package it's possible.

For the best places do get my guidebook to Nepal.

How to use a VPN in Nepal

Using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) in Nepal is easy. Simply install a VPN on your mobile device or laptop and off you go. The only issue is finding an internet connect that's fast enough to make it worthwhile.

What is a VPN and why would I need one?

A VPN secures any transmission between your device and the service you are trying to connect with. It also allows you to connect to a website while masking your location.

The benefits of a VPN are many. However the biggest benefits are securing your internet data while using public WiFi. And, being able to access websites and services like you would at home - in many countries certain websites are censored or blocked.

A prime example of using a VPN is Netflix. The company blocks access to streaming (watching) their movies or shows if you are in a country other than one that they dictate. So if you are from the USA and are in Nepal, even with a paid up Netflix account, you won't be able to watch anything. Unless, you use a VPN that's set to be from the USA - easy.

Similarly in 2017 Nepal Telecommunications Authority banned the VOIP Viber Out thereby making it illigal to use though not blocked on the internet outright yet. Many people could use a VPN. However, it would be still illegal to use Viber Out.

Another reason to use a VPN is that you can gain access to censored news coverage. In some countries certain news websites have been blocked. This hasn't happened yet in Nepal.

Where can you get a VPN?

You can get a VPN anywhere online. Some are free and limited. Others are unlimited and have to be paid for.

A good starter VPN is they offer 500MB for free, another 500MB if you tweet or recommend them. While it may not seem like a lot, it's very reliable and enough to make some phone calls or read an uncensored news website.

What mobile network offers the best coverage for trekking in Nepal?

Nepal may be a small country but that doesn't mean one mobile network can reach everywhere.

The general rule is: For Everest Region NCELL offers a good signal. For the Annapurna region Nepal Telecom is best. Smart Cell don't have good coverage for treks.

While the above might be true don't expect coverage 24/7. If you really need to be online when trekking then get both sim cards.

Tips on Internet in Nepal

  • Don't rely on 24/7 fast internet - it's not there
  • Do expect your internet connection to disappear frequently
  • Do expect to get up at odd hours of the night to get a connection
  • Do have spare batteries for your mobile devices as electricity is also not always there
  • Do be careful using public computers and sharing memory cards as computer viruses are a problem
  • Don't believe guesthouse owners who tell you their WIFI works very well!

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