Get cheap internet access for your mobile phone while in Uruguay

Phone by Jason DevaunOne of the great things about travelling in Uruguay is that free wifi is available everywhere. Hotels, restaurants, buses, the airport and port all have free wifi. However sometimes you may find yourself off-the-grid and want 3G mobile access.

Here’s how to do it while you are in Montevideo.

Warning: You will need to replace your SIM card with a Uruguayan one. But if you are fine about doing that, then this is a very cheap way to enable your smartphone.

  • Buy an ANTEL phone chip at a shopping centre or phone shop, the most convenient will be the Punta Carretas Shopping Centre because technical assistance is right next door

  • Take your phone and new chip to the nearest ANTEL office next to Punta Carretas Shopping Centre or the ANTEL office in the city centre. Note that you will have a new Uruguayan phone number while you are using the chip.

  • Go to the information desk and ask for a technician to configure your chip for internet. Say “Me pueden configurar internet?” (meh pweh-den con-feeg-uu-rar internet).You will be directed to take a number for the techical staff and will need to wait till your number comes up.

  • Once your chip has been configured you need to send an SMS to ANTEL to request internet megabytes for your phone. SMS to the number 226. In your message put the number of pesos-worth of internet bandwidth credit you would like eg “100”. You can charge anything from 50 pesos and up. For those staying a while, note that 100 pesos lasts for up to one month depending on your use, 200 pesos for two months. With 100 pesos I find that I can do everything that I want to on my smartphone for a month. I have never run out of credit except for when I used WhatsApp talk intensively for a few hours.

  • If you’d like to check your credit, send the word “Saldo” in an SMS to the same number.

Antel offices with technical support Only two ANTEL office offer technical assistance – the ANTEL office right next to Punta Carretas Shopping Centre on Garcia Cortina street (almost on the corner of Ellauri) or the ANTEL office on the corner of San Jose and Paraguay streets in Centro.

Opening times The ANTEL offices open Monday-Friday 9am-7pm and Saturdays 9am-2pm and they can get very busy. The best time to go is between 9am and 10am.

Why not buy the chip at the same ANTEL office? Because you will need to register the chip and they will ask you for paperwork. Whereas you can buy the chip anonymously at any mobile store.


Photo: Jason Devaun

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *