We have a T-Mobile phone plan. We’ve been with their phone service for about 15yrs.
They offer an International Roaming Service that we use after a LOT or research into what would be the best way to get good Wifi, Data and calling.
Anywho, here’s the dealio about Phone Service, WiFi and data while in Sri Lanka.
It’s spotty at best. Even with the best service plan the WiFi providers on this island nation are in and out.
We stayed in multiple Hostels and 3 Bed and Breakfasts and 1 AirBnb and traveled to Colombo, Mount Lavinia, Bentota, Kosgoda, Galle & Galle Fort, Unawatuna, Mirissa Beach, Kandy, Kitulgala and Rambukkana.
We had the best service in Colombo and in Kandy. Everywhere else was spotty for WiFi and Phone Service due to each place we stayed and the modems and routers they used.
We needed both WiFi and a Good Phone Service for our business and for our son to get school work done online.
That didn’t happen. Sam barely got any school work done the entire month we were there and we didn’t get much online work done either.
Well, Internet constantly goes down in Sri Lanka.
The people say that it’s just the way things are. Even if there aren’t power outages, WiFi just goes in and out.
For example, in Galle Fort, we stayed at an AirBnb with great hosts. Unfortunately for them, the only Modem they were able to purchase from their local provider was antiquated.
We barely got any service in there however, we went to Rocket Burger just a block or two away and the WiFi was awesome. We had lunch at a Crepery and the service was great, until the power went out…on a sunny day but a Rotti restaurant had very spotty service.
Our AirBnb had the most up to date and modern modem they had available yet it appeared to be a dinosaur.
The Phone service was in and out as was the data all over the island. You could cross a street and it would go from 3G to LTE or No Service.
If I texted my husband or he to me, when we were separated, we’d get the messages hours later.
How do we know this?
Well, at every place we went we had to help owners and employees get WiFi back on. We’re nerds so we felt the need to assist in remedying the situation.
In Kosgoda, the owners didn’t know the WiFi was out. They brought out a homemade ladder and one of their young employees climbed up to the Modem…which was up on the top of the ceiling, and I told him what to do to reset it.
We had service again but it too went out all the time.
Traveling by bus or train? Phone Service would go in and out.
We’d go from one plan to another roaming but by and far, Etisilat was the most reliable of them all.
These are the ones we tried but failed to get service from:
All of these sucked but Mobitel was the least sucky of the bunch. Etisilat worked on Most of the island while Mobitel only worked for bits of time in the bigger towns.
Locals get much better phone service though so if you have unlocked phones, just get a local Sim Card. Here is a great blog post I found that can help you figure out how to get a Prepaid Phone Service plan in Sri Lanka
For us, we are just going to stick with T-Mobile and hunt for restaurants and lodging with the best WiFi around so if our Phone Service sucks we at least have that.
On the Flip side… We took more pictures and videos in Sri Lanka than anywhere else we’ve been because what else was there to do with our phones right?