Network Coverage in Liberia

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As the business traveller sets out to engage in business in Liberia the deliberation over activating a roaming cell or purchasing a pre-paid SIM card is investigated by Melissa Jane Cook. Convenience, cost and coverage are essential factors to be considered. 

Lonestar Cell is the leading GSM communication company in Liberia. It is a member of MTN which is a leading international telecommunication company that operates in 21 countries in the Middle East and Africa. MTN has up to 60% share in Lonestar Cell.

Frans Joubert, CEO of Lonestar Cell Liberia, recommends that a business traveller who has to be in frequent contact with business partners and employees should roam with a home country number in order to keep in constant contact. For holidaymakers who do not wish to be disturbed, Joubert suggests purchasing a local SIM card which is available from a number of vendors.

Joubert reveals that pre-paid cards can be bought from any Lonestar Cell offices, agents or points of sale. They also offer pre-paid roaming to travellers coming from Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast Cameroon, Benin and Congo Brazzaville (The subscriber must have MTN Cards from those countries)

The rates for roaming are dependent on the subscriber’s SIM home destination as well as charges set by the subscriber’s home operating company. Lonestar Cell network covers about 80% of the population and about 75% of the geographical location of Liberia.

Natasha Venter, Information Technology Manager at the South African Travel Centre, expresses that in terms of Network Coverage the majority of their franchises suggest to their clients that they use the roaming on their mobile phones for short trips and for longer trips purchase local sim cards.

GPRS – Edge Internet

With Cellcom Liberia, using the advanced GPRS – Edge technology allows you to connect to the Internet anywhere. Cellcom Liberia customers enjoy advanced feature-rich data services such as e-mail on the move, sending and receiving pictures and many other web applicators. You are able to connect your laptop to the Internet without landlines, modem and GPRS enabling SIM card are available. Currently, Lonestar Cell does not offer a pre-paid GPRS service.

Jim Weighell, Corporate Manager of Sure Travel comments that he prefers using international roaming for voice, SMS, and data. He avoids taking his laptop on trips, having a preference for using his Smartphone when he is away. He would therefore find a pre-paid SIM somewhat limiting. Weighell states that it would also be problematic where contingency planning was concerned. If the traveller’s company has a cell phone number listed for use in emergency contact situations, a prepaid SIM would be difficult to communicate to all the right places and people.

Other Service Providers

Cellcom Liberia

Cellcom Telecommunications is one of Liberia’s largest mobile phone and Internet service providers. The Cellcom motto is ‘YOU are always NO 1.’ Their host of services range from high-quality voice calls, SMS, international communication services, and a wide selection of advanced content and tailor-made business solutions. With Cellcom, your cellular phone is a powerful multimedia device. Vodafone has roaming agreement with Cellcom.

Comium Liberia

Once the Comium Prepaid GSM Card is activated, your prepaid GSM account will have a certain amount of credit. It is compatible with all GSM mobiles and offers both local and international calls. There is no charge for incoming calls. Comium post-paid allows both local and international calls. It allows you to use your mobile while roaming and offers a variety of features and services.

Cell C

All calls made while roaming will be charged to your Cell C mobile phone account in South Africa. You will be charged for all calls, both incoming and outgoing. All calls and SMS charges will include the foreign network charge, plus a local roaming charge. These call rates will fluctuate from time to time due to the exchange rates. You will be charged for messages left on your voicemail if you have activated Call Forwarding Conditional and for retrieval of voicemail messages.

               

Network

Local

International

Call to SA

  SMS

Receive a Call

Conference call

Cellcom

R4.26

R15.98

R3.20

R11.53

Yes

Comium

R4.26

R14.91

R2.13

R11.53

Yes

                             

 

Vodacom / Vodafone

Vodacom’s International Roaming service allows Vodachoice (Post-paid) customers to make and receive calls on their cell phones when they travel abroad. Upon activation of International Roaming, you will be reachable on your existing Vodacom cell phone number when you travel to any country. Charges for calls and SMS made and received while on international roaming are then added to your monthly post-paid account. With SMS roamer, pre-paid customers can send and receive SMS only (voice and data functionalities are disabled to save costs) and keeping track of your own costs is easy, with a transparent SMS rate.

Charge Type

Local Calls

Calls to SA and International

Receiving a Call

Sending an SMS

Standard date

Rates per MB

Standard

R8.00

R10.00

R6.00

R2.75

R102.40

10% discount

(Voice calls Only)

N/A

N/A

R6.00

R2.75

R102.40

 

Vodacom Travel Tips

  • Verify the services (voice, data, SMS) which will be available to you when roaming in your international destination
  • Understand how you will be charged when using data abroad
  • Know and save the emergency number of the country you’re travelling to, and how to use it
  • Familiarise yourself with local cell phone laws