Online in Timor Leste – update

logoI have now been three times in Timor Lestewithin a year. My first time was 14 days in September 2011. My only regret from that trip was not being able to use a local sim-card in my iPhone. Cards were bought, contacts with Timor Telecom were made, numerous efforts made – but in the end of the day I failed miserably. Turned out my cellphone provider back home in Norway had not unlocked my phone.

Last time, in March, I had decided enough was enough. I wanted to get on line in Timor Leste, but it took some efforts to get through with what was the plan. I am now here for a third time. With past experiences it took me less than an hour from landing at the airport until I had a new micro-sim-card in my iPhone.

This is an update of an article first posted feb 29th, 2012 @11:26

First I bought two sim-cards from one of the “pulsa” (credits) sellers. The SIM-cards were normal sized sim cards, and I managed to cut the first one in pieces rendering it useless. The second one fit in my micro-SIM-card slot. They each cost me $20. I was to discover that this was a real rip-off.

For calling the card was fine. But it turned out the card was not internet activated. At Timor Telecom this is a separate procedure/registration by the operator. So I went to the source.

The Timor Telecom office at landmark has good service, and after a couple of minutes they had provided me with an internet enabled SIM-card. Foreigners, like me, have to leave a copy of the passport to get registered. I had it with me and 15 minutes after entering the shop I wandered out with a functional micro-sim card. I was on line! And all it cost me wass $10. Perfect!

Topping up the phone with prepaid credits is an other matter. The information on the card is like this:

Following the procedure will get you nowhere. There is a secret code, and those without the secret knowledge will not be able to top up their credits. Having entered the code well over ten times still not succeeding I asked a young man to help me. NO problem he said, taking my phone and entering the number 100 in front of the code. Magic! It’s a horrible example of how “common” knowledge is forgotten, even by the service provider.

Timor Telecom provides stable and relatively fast internet via both EDGE and 3G. But they really need to redesign the information on their pulsa cards. And on their website as well. The secret procedure was not mentioned anywhere on their website.

Last time I had to manually enter the cellular data network setting. Seems like that procedure belongs to the past. But I will keep that info here for those of you settings problems:

My next challenge was to share my internet connection with a colleague. iPhone does that neatly, but to activate it you will need to enter information in the tethering apn interface. Navigate to this place by choosing Settings / General / Network / Cellular Data Network. Where it says Internet tethering you write internet like this:

This will get your tethering partner up and running following the normal iPhone tethering procedures. If you do not succeed at first with this procedure I suggest you try turning the Cellular data switch off and then on again. You will find it under Settings / General / Network / Cellular Data Network as well. It is my assumtion that this makes the phone reload the internet (apn) settings.

The secret code (100) you have to enter before you enter your pulsa code remains a secret for us inclined to read the instructons on the pulsa card.

But – Timor Telecom does the job better and better. 

10 thoughts on “Online in Timor Leste – update

  1. ragnvald Post author

    You will either have to buy it unlocked, or arrange with the place you bought your iPhone to unlock it for you. So-called jail breaking is also an alternative, but should be avoided.

  2. Greg

    Hi, This information is very helpful. Although, I am trying to connect to mobile internet using a usb mobile internet modem on a laptop computer. I have purchased the internet enabled sim from landmark but after 6 seconds of connecting it disconnects every time. Do you happen to know the APN, DNS and any other settings i need to connect? Or even know what my problem might be?

    1. ragnvald Post author

      The disconnection issue might be related to your computer looking for a “better” network which has a higher priority. You could try to remove the other “stored” networks on your computer. As long as your modem gets you online and you can look up webpages with -non-numeric addresses you should be on a DNS. For the other settings try around. Tethering worked with “internet”, so maybe it works elsewhere as well?

      1. Greg

        Thanks for your help. Its very hard to find info for this part of the world. Do you know if buying credit is available online? The problem may be due to not having enough credit as its pre-paid, although I thought it should still stay connected. I dont have any other connections except for a wireless connection which is switched off when i try to use my mobile one. I tried the modem on another computer so i guess its a issue with the provider. I will go to land mark and see if they can help. Thankyou.

        1. ragnvald Post author

          I have not heard about any options for buying credits online. You may however choose to get a monthly invoice. But not everyone can get one I assume. Your card will always start with one dollar. I have however seen that the street salesmen open the cards and empty them before selling them – as new. Nor are they any good for internet access either. Good luck Greg!

  3. Nicki

    Thanks heaps- we have been in Timor for a week and could not work out how to set up tethering. We followed yOur instructions and everything worked out fine. It took a few minutes for the personal hotspot to activate after adding the apn details but it came up OK and we can now connect to the laptop. Thanks again for your advice – it was gold!

  4. rhendra

    Can anyone tell me how to setup the APN? I just bought a tablet pc which said can connect to 3G network (either use simcard directly or through modem) however it does not work. Any advise is higlhy appreciated.

  5. Siobhan

    Thank you so much!!!! I had no problems tethering when I was here last year, but this time it wouldn’t work – so glad I found your solution! 🙂


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