Bali has a good selection of reasonably priced 3G providers. If you need regular high-speed access from your laptop it’s a great option.
There are a few different providers to choose from. Here are my experience of them.
Click the link below for a translated version of XL 3G’s service page. It is worth reading, as it contains important information.
XL 3G Coverage
- Kuta – I got good 3G signal around most of Kuta and it’s surroundings. Even with 1 of 5 bars of signal I got reasonable data rates.
- Legian – No 3G signal, just GPRS
- Ubud – 3G across most of the town, even on the edges near the rice paddies
- Sanur – Excellent 3G signal
- Nusa Lembongan – 3G signal on the beach at Pondok Baruna (near Permana boat), but only GPRS further inland.
XL List 2 APN settings
XL list 2 APN’s. The accelerator version reduces the resolution of images to make them load quicker. HOWEVER, I found the accelerator APN to be slow and congested. I found it better to use the Without Accelerator APN. Speeds were twice as quick, and much better response times. If you want to keep costs down (bandwith) and don’t care about speed then go with the With Accelerator APN.
Modem, Dongle, Phone advice
To use the 3G networks you will need a 3G compatible modem, dongle or phone.
Many modern mobile phones have 3G network capabilities. If so, you can use your phone as a modem.
To make life simpler you can also buy a 3G dongle, which is like a flashdrive, just a bit bigger. They cost around IRP 1,000,000 from phone shops in Denpasar. Or get one from home before you leave. Always make sure it is SIM unlocked, so that you can use it anywhere.
I bought a 3G phone whilst in Bali. I bought a Sony Ericsson G502i phone. It was the cheapest 3G phone available, and is actually quite a good handset (MP3 player, 2MB camera, radio, 3G). I paid IRP 1,200,000 from the Electrical City store in the Discovery Mall in Kuta. I also saw the same phone for IRP 1,450,000 in the Carrefour supermarket on Sunset Road in Kuta.
Ultimately a 3G phone is more useful than just a 3G dongle.
iPhone experience in Bali
I have a 2G iPhone, which has EDGE capabilties only, not 3G. This phone is unlocked, so that I can use it with any SIM card. I have happily used this as my modem (using the PDA Net modem software) in many countries. EGDE only runs at around 25KB/s maximum, but this is OK for me. Faster would be nice, but hey…
In Bali (and probably the rest of Indonesia) the phone operators run only 3G technologies, and not 2G. Therefore my iPhone 2G could not use the EDGE networks. This meant I had to buy another phone to use anything other than GPRS speeds. This was fine in the end.
If you have an unlocked 3G iPhone (or 3GS) you should be fine using the 3G networks in Bali, and probably the rest of Indonesia. However, I don’t have first hand experience of this.
Other Internet options in Bali
If you only need occasionally internet access 3G is probably overkill for you.
There are loads of internet cafes around. They vary a bit, but all charge around IRP 150 per minute.
If you have your own laptop I think the best options are the mini-marts that line the main roads. Most have seating areas inside and out, and provide free WiFi, as long as you buy something in the shop. You can always just buy a cheap bottle of water and make it last a few hours. They are not going to move you on.
Cafes and restaurants often also offer Wifi. It often doesn’t work well, and can be expensive. But it’s a good option if you want to eat and check your emails at the same time.