TechnomadicsVagabonding Europe

Tunisiana.gifTunisia’s telecommunications network is definitely still developing — there’s still no 3G, although a French operator has recently acquired the contract to make it happen. The best Tunisia can offer presently is EDGE, but there’s good news: Tunisia’s first private telco, Tunisiana, offers a freaking awesome prepaid mobile Internet package: 9 Gb per month, for 27 TD (about €14).

This just came into effect at the beginning of 2010, and we were thrilled to discover it, after spending the last month confined to 3 Gb for 39 TD. And yes, the EDGE network is actually sufficient to use up this kind of quota! Even on GPRS, which you tend to fall back to when you go inland a bit, it’s still quite usable. We’ve been getting speeds around 11 kBs on EDGE along the coast, which isn’t too shabby.

It’s available on their prepaid SIM package, one you can just pick up for 5 TD at almost any of the thousands of little outlets that show the red-and-while Tunisiana sign.

Activating it is a bit tricky, though, if you don’t speak French or Arabic. First, you have to dial a number (1222) to activate the SIM card. Then, you have to dial another number, the main support line (1111) and follow some prompts to activate the actual Internet service, or ask in the shop where you got the SIM (chances are, they won’t have any idea what you’re talking about). I had no hope following the prompts, but luckily there are some English-speaking operators there who helped me through it. Ask for them with something like “Est-ce que je pourrais parler avec quelqu’un qui parle l’anglais?” (maybe).

Then, you select the mobile plan to use by entering *124# {amount of plan} *, then call. So for me, *124*27#. Check the plan usage with *100*4#, and check your credit with *100#.

As of Jan 2010, the offerings are:

10 megabytes6 TD
300 megabytes13 TD
1 gigabyte19 TD
9 gigabytes27 TD

The settings are:

  • APN:
  • Username: internet
  • Password: internet
  • Proxy available, but you don’t need to use it:

YouTube is blocked, as well as a host of other things like Google Translator (for translating websites — the text version works still). Hooray for Internet censorship!

One thing we noticed is that the Internet falls over fairly regularly. We also discovered, though, that this is due to a dodgy DNS server at Tunisiana. By using, say, Google’s public DNS server ( and, we fixed the problem.

Don’t ask the locals about mobile Internet — our experience is they tend to think they know more that you will, and will tell you to go with Tunisia Telecom, the public telco, which actually offers diddley squat. Tunisiana’s who you want. Their stuff is red and white — Telecom’s brand is blue-ish, so watch out when you’re buying the SIM card pack.

Oh, and if you have issues, call 1111 — don’t bother emailing them. I’ve never had a response from their email/web-based support line.

Other than that, we’ve been quite happy — as much as is possible over EDGE, anyway. Still better than what France is offering!

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5 Responses to Mobile Internet in Tunisia

  1. Hey Michael,

    This is great information. Are you talking about internet on a mobile phone or internet on a laptop via an internet key? I am currently in Italy using a Vodafone key for internet on my laptop. I’ll be spending a couple of months in Tunisia, and would love to find the same thing there.

    Thanks! Sarah

  2. Michael says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Both, actually; I use my iPhone as a wireless modem, so I access the internet both on the iPhone itself and via laptops. This info is oriented towards proper, full Internet use (as opposed to the lame just-enough-to-check-the-weather-weekly nonsense that one sometimes sees).

    As long as your USB modem is unlocked, you shouldn’t have any trouble. Just make sure you know how to set it up with the new APN, etc, and you’ll be just fine!

  3. Sorry to clutter up your comments, Michael. Hopefully you have other readers as clueless as I am. So are you saying that I can use the same SIM in my Vodafone key as I would use in a smartphone? How would I set it up as you describe? (since I obviously cannot call from my internet key.) Would I put the SIM into my phone to make the call to activate it, and then put it back into the internet key to use it for internet? Thank you again!

  4. Michael says:

    Not a problem at all! Clutter away ;-)

    Generally speaking, that’s right, as long as the devices in question are unlocked (your Vodafone modem may well not be – these things can generally be unlocked, but it takes a bit of doing). Some telcos pretend there’s a distinction between modems and mobile/smartphones, but there really isn’t – a modem (what you call a key) is the essentially same thing as the part of a mobile phone that speaks to the mobile network; it may just have different capabilities (like no voice support). It accesses data exactly the same way.

    How you go about setting it up varies wildly depending on what device(s) you’re talking about, what operating system you’re using, and what mobile network you’re on.

    The basic procedure is to first do whatever you need to activate the SIM card (as you say, perhaps making a phone call, or dialling a control code), then pop the SIM into the modem, and finally configure the APN/username/password/etc settings for the carrier, which may be possible through a utility, or through the system settings (for me, it’s configurable through my Mac’s system preferences, but I had to install a driver for the modem first).

    Incidentally, if you do have a smartphone, many of these can be used as modems (replacing your USB modem) – either via a cable, or over Bluetooth, meaning you can use the one SIM for both voice and tethered internet.

  5. Naim says:

    Hi Michael. Very good info thank you. Presently iam using tunisiana i found that tunisia telecom in deed is much better than tunisiana so i recommend if you need good speed go for ttelecom. Further agrew that no english here i speak some arabic its literature called fus ha but almost no one at the places you need help understands it.