A Digital Nomad’s Guide to the Best Internet Connections in Sri Lanka

Updated: Nov 14, 2021



Sri Lanka is arguably one of Asia’s most appealing island nations; you’ll find the best of the tropics on the golden and white sandy beaches where waters are in every stunning shade of blue, mountains and jungles shrouded by unique nature, and if you prefer cooler temperatures, you can head upcountry where you’ll be mesmerized by the rolling green hills covered by tea bushes.



While Sri Lanka has all this to offer and so much more, as a Digital Nomad one focal question you’ll be asking is “How’s the internet connection and which service provider do I go with?”.


Before we dive in, one thing to note is that, one thing we’ve been complaining about for the longest time is the fact that Sri Lanka did not have any unlimited data plans! However, thankfully as of recent, both Dialog & SLTMobitel have introduced Unlimited data plans which is quite pricey yet worth it if your work relies on it. In this blog we’ll be breaking down the carriers, their overall reception found around the island and there best deals for you.


(Tip: If you’re new to this and are confused by all this technical jargon, give this article a read!)


Who Are The Main Contenders?


Sri Lanka has a number of internet service providers, the main ones being Dialog Axiata and SLTMobitel, which we actively use ourselves. Aside from those two providers, there’s also Hutch and Airtel.




Each provider has a plethora of packages to choose from, whether it be mobile data, Wi-Fi or a home broadband connection, so you can skim through and decide which package suits your needs best.


Dialog

Dialog is arguably one of the most popular providers in the country, and rightfully so as they have a far-reaching coverage throughout the island and are relatively affordable as well. They offer an extensive range of packages for their broadband services that cater for various usage patterns.


When it comes to their speeds, dialog has been slightly inconsistent as they have so many users on their network which has slowed down the overall speed of the Downloads & Uploads, whilst dialog has been the top contender for the past 2 decades on the island. We feel that a change is on the horizon.


Pricing as of 9th November 2021


Best data package in our opinion - We would not recommend going for the unlimited data plans with dialog as they are super slow as is and would not be worth it unless internet speed does not matter to you. Instead pick one of the Anytime data plans based on the GB you wish to have for a month to get better speeds. (will share our reasoning for this at the end)


Click to check out the Dialog packages.


SLTMobitel

Yet another popular household name in Sri Lanka, SLTMobitel is the sole provider hosting Fibre connections which can be found in major cities like Colombo, Galle, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya and Weligama (just a few of the most sought-out hotspots for tourists). SLTMobitel, too, offers a wide variety of packages based on your budget and data usage. However, they do have the upper hand if you plan on basing yourself in one location long term. The SLT Fibre line gives you speeds of 100MBps which is definitely the fastest and most consistent internet speed you will find on the island. And it is definitely worth looking into the property you are staying at long term and seeing if they have a line as the cost of setting up a new line varies is Around 20,000/= (100USD). If the SLT fiber line is available then you are able to choose from a number of packages either capped by data per Day, Per month or by download speed. We are currently using the Unlimited 10 plan which suits our needs perfect for our home office.


If you are looking for a mobile plan which you can use on your mobile or as a hotspot connection whilst traveling around the island SLTMobitel offers a variety of packages which you can activate in real time based on your requirement.

As of our testing done till the 10th of September 2021, SLTMobitel has been extremely reliable in terms of getting internet coverage in the most remote of locations whilst having usable speeds with reasonable packages.

If getting SLTMobitel make sure you also download their Datamart App which lets you easily browse through all of the packages and activate/deactivate them.


Click to check out the SLTMobitel packages.

Pricing as of 9th November 2021

Hutch & Airtel

With the industry leaders Dialog & SLTMobitel having dominated the market share in the country, Hutch and Airtel have taken a backseat over the last few years. The two ISPs do offer some data packages that are indeed quite attractive and are great if you know what your data requirement is going to be in prior I.e.: need to upload a large file which is less than 4gb, Hutch offers a plan for 297/= which gives you 4.8 GB. Whilst these packages are not best optimized for postpaid monthly use, if combined with one of the above, it could help you reduce your Data bill drastically.


Click to check out the Hutch packages and Airtel packages.


We are currently in the process of testing out Dialog, Mobitel & Hutch reception around the island and have shared some of the results thus far which can be found at the end of this blog.


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Who Offers The Best Coverage?


This is a very tricky question to answer as everyone claims to have island wide coverage yet in some remote areas depending on the distance from the Radio towers, you could find yourself with no reception to do any work at all.


For instance, in Arugam Bay we were shocked to find out that Dialog did not have a usable internet connection. And had we not had our SLTMobitel sim on us. We would not have been able to upload our oh so important insta stories live on the day ;) So the short answer is that you need to have 2 Sim cards in order to have stable reliable internet all around the island. And we’d recommend either SLTMobitel & Dialog, or SLTMobitel & Hutch. As the best combo.



What Deals Should You Look Out For?


As you may have gathered by now, there is an abundance of data packages for you to choose from depending on your data usage and the internet speeds you require. At present, we use Dialog’s VoLTE 55GB Rental Package where you get 55GB of anytime data (8 am to 12 am) and 55GB during the night (12 am to 8 am) for Rs. 2,100+ tax per month. Alongside this, we also use SLTMobitel’s Fibre Unlimited 10 Package for which we pay Rs. 5,950+ tax per month, where you can enjoy Unlimited Data usage at a speed of up to 10Mbps.


A combination of these packages makes the most sense for us as we spend a considerable amount of time uploading content onto our creative platforms. For this purpose, we need relatively fast upload speeds and SLTMobitel’s connection is easily the best option for this. So if sturdy and fast upload speeds are vital to you, we would suggest taking a look at SLTMobitel’s Broadband Packages that range between Rs. 3000 and Rs.9000.


If your job required really fast upload speeds it is an absolute must that you find yourself a property with SLT Fibre or Dialog Fibre as the mobile connections upload speeds are not reliable and can slow down drastically based on the networks congestion.



In Conclusion...


Sri Lanka’s still got some ways to go in terms of improving our internet infrastructure. Nonetheless, we’re still better than some as island-wide coverage exists, as well as data packages that are affordable. For more tips on how to better utilize your data, take a look at Shehaan’s vlog here: https://youtu.be/__mbgSRwRAET Our advice is to get yourself a Personal Hotspot router similar to this. And have one sim card installed here.