Tanzania has a rapidly growing mobile market with multiple operators offering services across the country. Choosing the best mobile operator can be challenging given the range of options, coverage, data speeds and prices. This comprehensive guide looks at the various Tanzania mobile operators and provides tips on finding the right one for your needs and compares the major providers.

tanzania mobile operators

I. List of Tanzania Mobile Operators

There are several Tanzania mobile operators and mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) providing service in Tanzania. The major players are:

1. Main Mobile Operators in Tanzania

Company Ownership Year Established Subscribers in Tanzania Mobile Services
Halotel Owned by Viettel Global JSC, a state-owned Investment Company from Vietnam 2015 8.41 million as of June 2023 Provides voice, messaging, data and communication services
Vodacom Tanzania Subsidiary of Vodacom Group based in South Africa 1999 More than 15.6 million as of December 2020 Provides postpaid and prepaid voice, short messaging service (SMS), long-distance calling and roaming, high-speed mobile internet
Tigo Tanzania Owned by Axian Group 1993 Over 13.5 million registered subscribers Provides postpaid and prepaid voice, short messaging service (SMS), long-distance calling and roaming, high-speed mobile internet along with value-added services such as mobile financial services and instant entertainment on mobile phones

These main operators have wide network coverage across Tanzania and offer 2G, 3G and 4G services.

2. Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) in Tanzania

Tanzania is working to connect rural areas through MVNOs. AMOTEL was the first licensed in 2015. They partner with TTCL, using their network to reach more customers without building towers. This innovative public-private model helps AMOTEL bridge the digital divide as Tanzania’s sole MVNO.

II. How to Choose the Best Tanzania Mobile Operator

Check network coverage in your area

Vodacom, Tigo, Airtel, Halotel and Zantel have varying coverage across Tanzania’s regions. Check coverage maps on their websites to find operators with strong signal where you live, work and travel. Vodacom and Tigo have the widest nationwide coverage while Zantel’s coverage is mainly on Zanzibar island.

Compare data speeds

Do speed tests on the major operators’ 3G and 4G networks in cities and towns you frequently visit to compare average download and upload speeds. Faster speeds are better for high data usage like streaming. 4G is available on Vodacom, Tigo and Airtel in major cities so far.

Assess call quality

Make test calls on the networks to check voice clarity, call stability and drop rates. This ensures good call quality when using that operator. Some reports indicate Airtel has better coverage and quality in game parks in Northern Tanzania.

Review data plans and costs

Compare data bundles, monthly plans and per MB charges provided by operators. Consider bundles with free WhatsApp, social media access or night data. Go for affordable and sufficient data plans for your usage.

III. Best Tanzania Mobile Operators

Here is an in-depth look at the major Tanzania mobile operators and how they compare on key parameters:

Operator Download Speed Range (4G) Coverage Call Quality Customer Service Prepaid Plan Price Range (USD)
Vodacom 10-70 Mbps Widest nationwide 4G coverage Good voice quality Good but higher charges $0.75-5
Tigo 14-95 Mbps Extensive 4G coverage but less than Vodacom in some rural areas Decent but occasional call drops Average and needs improvement $0.5-4
Airtel 12-74 Mbps Lower countrywide 4G coverage compared to Vodacom and Tigo Decent but congestion affects quality at times Average $0.25-2.5
Halotel 12-32 Mbps Still limited 4G coverage in some rural areas Decent but less congested than others Needs improvement $0.25-1.5

Based on the analysis of network performance, coverage footprint, data offerings, and customer care across Tanzania’s top operators, Vodacom emerges as the best choice for visiting tourists.

Of course, charges will be higher on Vodacom. But for tourists who prioritize coverage, speeds and customer support above all else during their travel, Vodacom presents the most reliable option out of Tanzania’s mobile networks. Reliability is important for hassle-free connectivity while exploring diverse tourist attractions and destinations.

IV. Where to Buy SIM Card from Tanzania Mobile Operators?

Here are some tips on where and how to buy a SIM card from major Tanzania mobile operators:

  • At operator stores/outlets: The main operators have retail outlets and service centers in major towns where you can buy SIM cards by providing your ID documents.
  • Supermarkets: Many major supermarkets also have dedicated operator shops or counters selling SIM cards from multiple providers under one roof.
  • Online purchases: Some operators allow online purchase by providing ID copies and documentation. The SIM card can be delivered to your address.
  • Resellers: There are authorized mobile resellers across Tanzanian cities and towns selling SIM cards from different networks. Provide ID proof when buying.
  • Airports: Tanzanian airports have operator counters or shops after exiting the baggage area for easy SIM card purchase for foreign travelers. Carry your passport.

When buying the Tanzania SIM card, you need to provide a valid photo ID document like passport, driving license, national ID card etc. Activation is quick after providing documentation.

V. Do Tanzania Mobile Operators Offer eSIM?

eSIM or embedded SIM allows using mobile plans without needing a physical nano-SIM card. eSIM functionality is gradually being rolled out globally but uptake is still limited in Tanzania:

  • Vodacom Tanzania: Currently does not offer eSIM plans. Vodacom has introduced eSIM support for wearables like smartwatches but not yet for mobiles.
  • Tigo Tanzania: Similarly does not yet provide eSIM for smartphone connections. But some of its international roaming partners have eSIM which Tigo subscribers can use when traveling.
  • Airtel Tanzania: Has so far not launched any eSIM offerings for mobiles or smartwatches. It is also dependent on international roaming partners for eSIM services while traveling.
  • Halotel: This relatively new operator only offers physical SIM cards at present. No eSIM functionality has been introduced yet on its network.
  • TTCL Mobile: The state-owned operator also does not have eSIM capability for mobiles and instead relies solely on traditional physical SIM cards.

However, travelers can purchase a Tanzania eSIM from esimtanzania.com by GIGAGO, which provides eSIM data plans for 1GB, 3GB, 5GB and 10GB with validity periods of 7-30 days.

tanzania esim

The plans are priced affordably from $5-28.90 and include coverage across Tanzania on the Vodacom network. Users will receive the eSIM profile via email within 5 minutes of purchase.

how esimtanzania.com benefits you

Installation is easy by scanning the provided QR code. This allows travelers to stay connected in Tanzania without worrying about finding and activating a physical SIM card. esimtanzania.com also offers 24/7 online support and refunds in case of issues. Their eSIM plans provide a hassle-free connectivity solution for visitors to Tanzania.


Which is the best Tanzania mobile operator for rural areas?

Vodacom currently has the most extensive rural coverage and network reach in Tanzania compared to other operators. Airtel and Tigo also have decent rural presence.

Which Tanzania mobile operator has the fastest internet speeds?

Vodacom and Tigo generally have the fastest 4G speeds nationwide though congestion can affect speeds at times. Airtel and Halotel also offer competitive 4G speeds.

Which operator has the cheapest data bundles in Tanzania?

Halotel and Tigo have some of the most affordable data bundle rates in Tanzania. Airtel and TTCL also offer cheap data deals. Compare rates based on usage.

Can I use my SIM card from another country in Tanzania?

Roaming on foreign SIMs is possible in Tanzania but very expensive. Buying a local Tanzania SIM card is more affordable for regular use while visiting

How can I recharge my mobile account in Tanzania?

You can recharge your mobile account through operator apps, Scratch cards, ATMs, bank transfers, mobile money like Tigo-Pesa, Airtel Money etc.

VII. Final Words

Finding the best Tanzania mobile operator involves checking coverage, speeds, affordability, bundles and other aspects. Vodacom leads in coverage and speeds. Tigo is close behind and offers affordable deals. Airtel, Halotel and TTCL also compete on pricing and bundles. Compare operators thoroughly based on locations frequented and usage needs to pick the right Tanzanian mobile network.