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Mobile phones cell phones in Tunisia, Tunisian SIM and recharge cards

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Mobile telephony in Tunisia

Tunisia offers networks of 2*G (GSM, GPRS, EDGE) and 3*G (UMTS, HSPA42). The frequencies used are  850, 900, 1800, 1900 and 2100 MHz. Tunisia has, however, not yet adapted 3.9G (LTE), but it is announced to start until the year of 2015.

Almost the whole of Tunisia is covered well by the 2G network, while the 3G network is basically limited to the areas of the bigger cities and tourist regions.

All 3 network providers in Tunisia offer 2G and 3G technology.
The mobile providers in Tunisia are:
- Tunisie Telecom (since 1996)
- Ooredoo (prev. Tunisiana, since 2002)
- Orange Tunisie (since 2010)

Prepaid mobile phone in Tunisia

In Tunisia, there are two types of mobile telephony offers, "postpaid" (contract, invoice at end of month), and "prepaid" (charge as you go).

The fees do not differ significantly from each other, only the possible options (billing, multiple SIM cards, etc.). The postpaid offers, however, are usually meant for companies. Therefore, on this page, only the prepaid type will be discussed.

Tunisian SIM cards

It is even for foreigners (non-residents in Tunisia) quite easy to obtain one of the SIM cards (called "puce" in Tunisia) of the three mobile service providers in Tunisia (Ooredoo, Orange Tunisie, Tunisie Telecom). All what is needed, is a passport. The passport will then be copied and the prepaid-contract issued within a few minutes.

A SIM card costs currently 5 TND - in many cases, the card is sold as well as part of a "starter package" which includes some free airtime and/or short messages (SMs). Such a package costs around 20 TND. In large airports, both providers operate their own agencies - so a traveler can buy a card even right on entering the country; if not, SIM cards are sold in shops at almost each street corner.

Tunisian SIM cards work in most other countries as well when their "roaming" mode is switched on.
However, using a tunisian card in roaming mode for calling or being called is as expensive as using any other card in another country and is therefore not recommended at all.
But nevertheless, there are good reasons why it makes sense to operate a tunisian phone card in another country:

- First, of course, a potential tunisian caller will have to know only your tunisian number, there is no need to supply a foreign number to them.

- Secondly, the costs of a SM (short message) from a tunisian number to another tunsiain number, even when this number is roaming abroad, only costs 0.050 TND (about 3 cents EUR/UK, 4 cents US) - so, people sending a SM to you from Tunisia can do so at the local tunisian rate instead of paying the international rate, which is 3 times as high. But even more: the internet portal MaOooredoo allows each owner of a Oooredoo SIM card to send short messages online, which are then always charged at tunisian rates - in other words, you can send SMs to tunisian mobile phones at the local tunisian rates, even when you are not in Tunisia (and it is convenient too, since you can use the computer keyboard to write the messages - even using arabic letters!).

- And finally, when you receive a call, even when you do not pick it up, you will see who was calling you (caller number identification is always turned on in Tunisia) and can then decide to call back using a convenient option (eg. VoIP, calling card,etc.).

This also works when your tunisian SIM card is not continuously inserted into the phone, because for a period of at least 24-36 hours, "missed calls" will be announced to you by a SM alert from the tunisian network as soon as the SIM card is re-connected.
Tunisian recharge cards

Recharge cards are used to refill (top up) your calling credit. They are available everywhere in Tunisia usually advertised as "Cartes GSM" or "GSM Recharge". They are little credit-card type plastic cards. You have to rub free a number printed on this card and then simply type that number into your telephone to put the credit on your card account.

Recharge cards are available as 2 (3), 5, 10, 25 (30), and 50 TND cards. In addition, you have to pay the 10% phone tax, which is eg. 0.500 TND for a recharge of 5 TND.
It is also possible to recharge your card account electronically in the shops without buying a recharge card. In this case, you tell the salesperson your telephone number and the shop put the requested amount on your card account.

In Tunisia, it is also possible to transfer money amounts directly from telephone card account to telephone card account, like a sort of micropayment. This can only be done within the same network, though (eg. Ooredoo to Ooredoo and Tunisie Telecom to Tunisie Telecom) and with small amounts of 500 Millimes to 10 Dinars.

If a card account is depleted, the card can still be used for a small number of "call requests" (a SM will be sent with the text "please call me").

For Tunisian SIM cards, you usually cannot buy any recharge when you are not in Tunisia - there are only the possibilities of buying some recharge cards when you are in Tunisia and take them home - or to have a friend there who transfers some money on your card account as described above.
Here are Tunisiana mobile prepaid tariffs and TunisieTelecom mobile prepaid tariffs.

Some important telefon codes:

Function TunTel Code Ooredoo Code Orange Code
Show card account credit *122# *100# *100#
Show the recharge amount for the current month --- *102# ---
Recharge card account using a recharge card *123*Codenumber# *101*Codenumber# *100*codenumber#
Transfer money to another card account
within the same network
Pass = 4digit secret number, which you pick by: *133*0000*Pass#
Minimal amount = 1000
Amount = 500 - 4999
Pass = 4digit secret number, which you pick in the menu when you dial *116#
Amount amount = 1000-10000
Switch on SM-alert for missed calls *62*1162#    (off = #62#) *62*1101#    (off = #62#) Dial menu at *111#

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