I'll be travelling to Leh, Ladakh, India this August. Concerned about the mobile connectivity there. Is there mobile networks coverage in Leh and Pangong Lake area? If yes, is it good enough to use mobile internet?
Prepaid connections that are bought from outside the J&K state do not work in J&K (Leh is in J&K).
If you want your connection from else where in India to work in Leh you would need a post paid connection. Mobile phone connections from abroad which are post paid will work as well. I have tried a UK EE mobile sim and it works for both data and calls but it costs a leg and an arm.
Mobile networks that work in and around Leh:
BSNL : BSNL has the best network coverage and is some times the only network available in less populated or remote areas. Being a government run company they do not have much to do with profitability hence the availability is not restricted to only profitable areas.
Airtel : Availability is limited to dense to moderately populated areas only. You wont find Airtel where you need it the most.
Data connectivity : Both Airtel and Bsnl only have 2G connectivity with speed of 32kbps which is only good for messenger apps like whatsapp but uploading a picture will take very long time.
Mobile connectivity at Pangong Tso Lake : There is no mobile network at the Pangong Tso lake. The nearest mobile tower from Pangong Tso lake is at Durbuk (bsnl tower) which is a long way from the lake, that would be the last point of any connectivity both mobile and data. There is a Sattelite pay phone booth on the way to Phobran where calls are charged at Rs2 per min to call within India. Please do not use it if you do not really need it, it is subsidised by the government and uses tax payers money.
I have been to Ladakh many times and I have found BSNL to be the best option. If you come from Delhi or Mumbai your MTNL mobile (if it is post paid) will work fine on BSNL network and there is no data roaming charge. (This info was good until 10th of July 2016 when I was there).
Your options if you do not have a post paid connection :
You can request the hotel to help you buy a prepaid local sim card when you get to Leh.
Yes, you will have mobile connectivity. I used Airtel several years ago, worked pretty well.
You will need to buy the sim in Ladakh.
Naturally, you will have proper coverage in the Leh, but in the way or in the villages around much less change.
This website (Hebrew) have several useful tips (summary):
- Sim card that bought in India won't work in Leh, Ladakh & Kashmir
- Same for international plans
- You need photocopy of your passport, tourist visa and passport photos.