There are four mobile operators operating in Laos: ETL, Lao Telecom, Unitel, and TPLUS. All the operators operate 2G, 3G, and 4G network. In September 2020, Lao Telecom announced the launch of its 5G network but the service is only available in a few locations in Vientiane such as Sihom village, night street market at the Mekong River, Sailom village, and National University of Laos (Dongdok Campus).
If you are new to Laos, the mobile data plans could appear slightly confusing. But it is actually quite simple: there are two types of prepaid data plans: one is for standard SIM cards and one for data SIM cards.
Standard SIM cards are the ones you plug into your phone and that allows you to place and receive calls and SMS.
Data sim cards do not allow to call out. They are usually reserved for tablets, mobile dongles, or portable hotspot, to get quick and cheap Internet access. In Laos, the data packs available in such types of sim-cards are much more affordable than the traditional plans.
Besides this particularity, the data plans in Laos are overall very simple. Mobile operators offer volume-based packages with different validity periods. There is definitely room to develop a more advanced product offering such as time-based plans (night packs, weekend packs) or app-based plans (social packs, video packs) with a partnership with global or regional OTT players.
Mobile data plans for your smartphone
The four mobile operator in Laos share very similar data plans. ETL, Lao Telecom and Unitel offer daily and monthly packs whereas TPLUS offers weekly and monthly packs. ETL is in average the cheapest of the four mobile operators.
When it comes to choosing your data plan, subscribers are looking for the best value for money, but we don’t all share the same budget. The below table can be useful to pick the best monthly data plan according to your budget.
As we can see, ETL has an ongoing promo for the launch of its 4.5G network. These new plans are very competitive.
Mobile data plans for your data dongle or mobile hotspot
In general, the data plans for data-only sim cards are 7 times more affordable than the traditional plans.
TPLUS and LTC offer the best value for money on these type of packs.
If we break down the plans per budget, we can identify a few good plans. TPLUS for instance offers 10GB per month for LAK 50,000, a very good deal. If you need a bit more data, you can go for ETL 12 GB for LAK 100,000. Still not good enough? What about Unitel 30GB for 200,000 LAK?
It would also be a good idea for mobile operators in Laos to develop a home broadband offering that consists of a 4G LTE wireless router combined with unlimited data plans with a fair usage policy.
2G, 3G, 4G, or 5G Mobile Coverage in Laos
If you are looking for the mobile operator with the best mobile coverage in Laos, take a look at the interactive maps from Nperf. The platform data is collected from tests carried out by users of the nPerf app. These are tests in real conditions not marketing data from the mobile operators in Laos. If you wish to participate, you can try out the Speedtest tool on our website.
Mobile data is quite expensive in Laos. On average, it will cost you US$3.7 per GB on traditional data plans. The data plans dedicated to data-only SIM cards are much more attractive ~US$0.56. If you are looking to optimize your Internet costs, it could be a good idea to invest in a dual-SIM smartphone. You can use the first SIM as a Voice SIM and the second as a Data SIM, therefore, taking advantage of the very attractive pricing of data-only SIM cards.