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I have a hard time understanding how I will be charged in Montevideo, Urugay for my phone. I've seen this answer which links me to this wiki page with the prices of all mobile operators. I'm an exchange student and will be visiting Uruguay in a few weeks and spend about 6 weeks there. I bring two friends, who will probably use the same mobile operator. I want to call them cheaply but it is also important to call my host without spending a fortune (who will probably be using another operator). I use a lot of data (about 1-2GBs per month) but I don't care about LTE (since I will be using an old iPhone 3GS).

If I chose Claro, I'd probably spend $104.23 on data alone. That is way above my budget and I don't even know who much data I'm allowed to use. Did I miss something here, because this seems to be unrealistic.

Antel seem to be the best option to choose. The SIM card is just $2.27 and as far as I've understood, I'll get 250 SMS, 3 free destinations (i.e. 1000 min to a landline, 1000 mins, and 1000 SMS to another Antel mobile. I'll also get to choose 5 numbers I can talk to for just $0.05. This seems to be incredible cheap. Data is also cheap so maybe I'm wrong. $23.70 for almost 2GBs for the whole stay is fair, however, I'm not sure if I have to choose Prepaid Mobile Broadband or Prepaid Mobile Internet.

I don't get Movistars data prices at all. Do they charge me for every 50MB? Do they actually distinguish between "social media" (e.g. Facebook) and other services? I will be using VPN anyways, so they won't (hopefully) be able to analyze my traffic.

I was hoping someone (local) could help me understand their pricing policies and what I is best for my case.

5
+50

I live in Uruguay (and use ANCEL), but I'm in no other way affiliated with them. I just use them and recommend them when have friends visiting because they're, in my opinion, the best choice available here.

With their Kit Prepago, you get:

  • 500 SMS to other ANCEL mobiles
  • 512 MBs to use the LTE network (or 384 MBs if you use the 3G infrastructure)
  • 1000 mins to a landline, 1000 mins to another ANCEL mobile, 1000 SMS to another ANCEL mobile (note that they don't have to be the same mobiles, so if you're 3 friends, you could put one of them as your free contact to talk to and the other one as your free contact to send SMS)
  • 5 ANCEL mobiles you can choose to talk to at 0.99 UYP per minute (once you set them, you need to wait 2 or 3 months to change them)
  • The cost to other UY mobiles (ANCEL or not, no matter the city where they are) is 7,21 UYP per min (you can find a table with prices here). That's the default plan for prepaid lines, but there are other plans you can choose from:
    • Franjas: Mañana, Mediodía, Tarde y Noche: You can choose a range (8am to 12pm, 12pm a 4pm, 4pm to 8pm, 8pm to 12am or 12am to 8am). On that range, you will pay 4.44 UYP per minute, but out of that range you pay 9.42 UYP per minute
    • Nights and weekends (aka Plan Ocio): Calls made Monday to Friday from 8pm to 8am, all day on Saturday, Sunday and holidays cost 3.14 UYP per minute. At other times, you pay 11.70 UYP per minute
  • There is no roaming in Uruguay, so no matter where you are you will always be charged the same
  • There is no cost to receiving calls

You need to pay 60 UYP for the SIM card + whatever you want to use to talk. You can see the conversion rates between UYP and USD here. Also, all free numbers are good while you have remaining credit on your account, and as long as you have charged at least 100 UYP in the last 30 days.

If you run out of data, you can get the best value by using BAM (Banda Ancha Móvil or mobile broadband). With this you can buy data on demand by sending a message to 226:

  • texting 100: you get 384 MBs good for 30 days for 100 UYP
  • texting 200: you get 768 MBs good for 60 days for 200 UYP
  • texting 300: you get 1152 MBs good for 90 days for 300 UYP
  • texting 500: you get 1920 MBs good for 90 days for 500 UYP
  • texting BAM 100: you get 1024 MBs good for 5 days for 100 UYP
  • texting BAM 200: you get 3072 MBs good for 10 days for 200 UYP
  • texting BAM 300: you get 10240 MBs good for 30 days for 300 UYP

You can follow the links to access to the source of the data (in Spanish). The only data I know from using it (but I haven't been able to find on their website) is the time you need to wait to change the "Números Amigos" (those 5 you get to talk to at 0.99 UYP per minute).

  • I suppose you ANCEL is a synonym for antel, right? And I still don't get the difference between mobile broadband and Banda Ancha Móvil. Could you please address that in the post and let me know if you changed that? – Matt3o12 Jun 23 '15 at 18:15
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    ANTEL is the company name. When they started selling mobile services, they branded that initiative as ANCEL (mobile phones are usually called "celulares", that's why I guess they chose that). After some time, they killed the ANCEL brand and now they're ANTEL móvil. It's the same company (and it's been the same since day 1). Banda Ancha Móvil is the product name (that's why it's often refferred to as BAM) and its translation to English is mobile broadband :) – g3rv4 Jun 23 '15 at 18:32
  • So, there is absolutely no difference between 100 and BAM 100 except that 100 lasts for 30 days while BAM 100 lasts for 5 but offers more MBs, right? I mean differences regarding speed limits, available content (do antel even filter traffic?), etc. – Matt3o12 Jun 23 '15 at 18:49
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    That is correct. They recently brought Apple hardware, so I don't know if they're limiting tethering on Apple gear... but I use a Nexus 5 and I'm able to do tethering at great speeds (20 Mb/s on LTE). Antel doesn't filter anything. – g3rv4 Jun 23 '15 at 18:53
  • Great! Thank you very much. But as I said I will use an iphone 3gs since I was told there are many thieves and I mugged, I'll just lose $50 instead of $500. – Matt3o12 Jun 23 '15 at 21:49
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I'm not local from uruguay, but I spent a few summer vacations there. It semes that ANTEL has around 50% of the mobile market and, as far as I remember, ANTEL was the only company providing POTS telephony in Uruguay. It used to be a nation-wide monopoly and it seems to remain this way as this link (in spanish) says. That's why they can provide a much cheaper service for mobile phones, they have a great share of customers both in landline and mobile telephony.

The prices for mobile internet in ANTEL can be seen here (also in spanish). Looks like you'll pay less than US$20 (UYU 500) for 2Gb of data. For voice, if you choose the super plan, you'll get 1.000 minutes to a landline, 2.000 minutes to 2 mobiles and another 5 friends for US$0,05/minute (UYU 0,99) for US$11,90 (UYU 319).

Are those prices within your budget allowance? I suppose it can't get any cheaper than that and ANTEL seems like a good choice.

P.S.: I'm not in any way affiliated with ANTEL.

  • Antel can get better prices also because they are state-owned. As such, it isn't its primary goal to bring profits, but to provide a service to Uruguayans :) – g3rv4 Jun 22 '15 at 22:41
  • @GervasioMarchand does that really happens in Uruguay? I live in a country where some state-owned companies aim first at profit! – gmauch Jun 23 '15 at 14:40
  • ha! it does... lots of the state-owned companies are run at a loss (while others make it up by bringing profit). ANTEL, for instance, recently invested in adding fiber to every home in Uruguay even if it isn't the best financial move (as they're reaching small towns with very little people). It's not all happiness, there're lots of things that don't work as they should be... but ANTEL does things that a for-profit company wouldn't do (like increasing the DSL/fiber bandwidth without charging a dime for it regularly) – g3rv4 Jun 23 '15 at 14:59
  • @GervasioMarchand that is awesome! Where I come from, state-owed companies are also not-for-profit but they are either not very competitive or monopolies. They waste a lot of money on dump business decision and bureaucracy because: a) it doesn't matter since the losses are covered by the tax payer, b) they don't get fired unless they are really stupid. – Matt3o12 Jun 23 '15 at 18:25

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