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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Tanzania - Getting Your iPad onto a 3G Data Network

Getting your local data SIM and usage plan in Tanzania is not as simple as it is in Egypt.  Fortunately, I have a contact point for you that might be able to help out.  While mobile phones are very common in Tanzania, smartphones and data connections are scarce.  I immediately spotted the Vodacom signs that are everywhere and thought that would be a good place to pick up a data SIM.

It may be, but the language barrier will likely slow you down unless you are carrying your iPad with you and can slide out the SIM carrier to show what you want.  Even then, only the larger shops will have the data SIM.  But wait a minute.  What is that blue sign underneath the red Vodacom sign?  Tigo?  What's a tigo?

Tigo is the number three mobile phone carrier in Tanzania with a 23% share of the market.  I sat next to Robert Paul, Broadband Sales Coordinator for the northern part of the country, on a plane ride.  Robert assures me that Tigo is rapidly becoming #1 in data.  Would a salesman ever exaggerate?  This article describes a recent expansion of their data coverage.

If you spot this blue sign, you'll know you're in the right place.  A picture of a smartphone and the word Internet.  In fact, the sign translates to "Get Tigo Internet Here!"

The sign sits, almost unnoticeable, on this blue booth at the Mwanza airport on the shore of Lake Victoria.  It would be easy to mistake it for another food vendor if you didn't know otherwise.

Now, what you want to know is, "how do I found a Tigo Internet sign near me when I arrive in Tanzania?"   Robert Paul has an E-mail address of robert (dot) paul (at) tigo.co.tz
I would suggest letting him know of your travel plans before your arrival and see if he can get you connected to the nearest Tigo outlet when you arrive.  You will no doubt need a copy of your passport for identification.  Your iPad will likely be a rarity on the network.  Robert Paul says almost all of their users are on an Android base.

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