What Are the Tonga Phone Networks?© TongaPocketGuide.com
What Are the Tonga Phone Networks?

Will Your Phone Work in Tonga?

© TongaPocketGuide.com

Can I Use My Phone in Tonga?

Plugging into one of Tonga‘s two cellphone networks when arriving is a necessity if you want to keep phone and internet expenses to a minimum. Unless you want to pay extortionate roaming rates, you will have to get yourself a SIM card and a new Tonga phone number. In order to get a Tonga SIM, you will need to make sure your phone is compatible with the GSM and data frequencies and is unlocked for all phone networks. We go through all of that and more in this guide to checking your phone will work in Tonga!

Will Your Phone Work with a Tonga SIM Card?

If you’re planning to use your phone from overseas in Tonga, rather than buying a new phone when you arrive, then you need to make sure your phone is compatible with the Tonga phone networks.

In short, the criteria your phone needs to have to work with a Tonga SIM card is:

  • Your phone is a GSM dual-band or tri-band phone
  • Your phone operates on a 900 Mhz frequency (or 1,800 MHz with Digicel 4G/LTE).

And to charge your phone, you’ll need a type 1 travel adapter!

We break down this information further in the guide below.

What Are the Tonga Phone Networks?© TongaPocketGuide.com

Can You Use Roaming in Tonga?

Many overseas phone networks (but certainly not all, so be sure to check) offer roaming in Tonga. However, this is by far the most expensive way to use your phone, even if the phone plans in Tonga aren’t exactly “cheap”. Furthermore, the network most international carriers connect to, UCall, offers a pretty slow connection.

Therefore, we recommend getting a local SIM card in Tonga for cheaper access to calls, texts and data than what your overseas provider can offer, as well as a better connection and faster speeds. See The Best SIM Card in Tonga for Travellers for more details.

What Are the Tonga Phone Networks?© TongaPocketGuide.com

Is Your Phone Unlocked?

If You Purchased Your Phone Unlocked

Good job! Your phone is ready to go. As long as it meets the conditions in the two sections below, you will be able to use your phone in Tonga.

If You Purchased Your Phone Through a Network Operator

Generally, when a phone is purchased through a network operator, it will come locked to the network you bought your phone from. This means that you will only be able to use it with a SIM card from said operator.

To be able to use a phone on a different network than the one you purchased it from, such as the local networks in Tonga, you will need to unlock it. To do so, refer to your contract and see what is the fee to unlock your phone, as well as the timeframe. In many cases, phones can be unlocked for under $50 if you have been with an operator for 6 or 12 months.

You can also unlock phones through phone unlocking stores that can be found pretty much everywhere – probably at your local mall! This is usually more expensive than doing it through your network operator but is typically quicker and more convenient.

What Are the Tonga Phone Networks?© TongaPocketGuide.com

Is Your Phone Compatible with Tonga’s Network?

GSM Compatibility

Tonga’s phone networks use GSM technology. This is the newest cellphone network technology as opposed to the older CMDA one. You’ll find that almost all phones use GSM technology since around 2017.

To make sure that your phone will work in Tonga, it will need to support GSM technology.

To find out if your phone supports GSM technology, refer to your user manual (which will likely be on your phone). One more thing; a phone working on a CMDA network could be supporting GSM as well, as many phones have dual compatibility (dual-band). Phones that have tri-band and quad-band compatibility will also work in Tonga.

Internet Compatibility

You will also want to be able to browse the web and use TongaPocketGuide.com throughout your entire trip, right? Not only are WiFi hotspots limited in Tonga, but there is almost always a fee for using WiFi. Accessing the internet is more reliable and cheaper through a local phone network.

In order for your phone to use the internet (data) in Tonga, it must be compatible with the following frequencies:

  • 2G: 900 MHz
  • 3G: 900 MHz
  • 4G/LTE: 1800 MHz

Note that 5G is not yet available in Tonga.

ITU Regions

Tonga uses the ITU Region 3 (3 is the Asia-Pacific Region). What this means is if you have bought a phone in another ITU region, and the phone doesn’t have tri-band or quad-band, then your connection will be limited.

In other words, you’ll have full access to Tonga’s phone networks with tri-band or quad-band phones, but less so without. On the plus side, portable modems are available to rent from Tonga’s local phone networks, which provides an easy solution. Learn more about portable modems in How to Get Internet & WiFi in Tonga.

What Are the Tonga Phone Networks?© TongaPocketGuide.com

Will My Apps Work in Tonga?

Most apps will work just fine in Tonga. Apps like Facebook, WhatsApp, Viber, Google Maps, TikTok, etc. all work. Bear in mind, however, that if you are using a local SIM, you will need to confirm your new phone number on apps like WhatsApp that are connected to your phone number.

Note that some apps are geo-locked and will only work when linked to a country-specific SIM so be aware that some apps may not work in Tonga. You may need to create a different account here in Tonga and subscribe from here. This is mostly true for apps dealing with copyright work like music or videos, such as Spotify.

A Word of Warning

Apple, Google and Outlook accounts have an auto-detection system that will trigger a security check when connecting from a different country. Make sure that you have another option than a phone number for that security check. Otherwise, you might be locked out of your accounts. Security questions are the way to go.

More About Using Your Phone in Tonga

That’s it for our guide on checking if your phone will work in Tonga. For more tips on staying connected in Tonga, check out the following guides:

Finally, make sure you know all of the essential tips from the 30 Tips for Travelling in Tonga and have everything packed using What to Pack for Tonga: A Full Tonga Packing List.


Robin (Lopini) C.

This article was reviewed and published by Robin, the co-founder of Tonga Pocket Guide. He has lived, worked and travelled across 16 different countries before settling in the South Pacific, so he knows a thing or two about planning the perfect trip in this corner of the world. Robin works and consults regularly with the Ministry of Tourism of Tonga. Robin is also the co-founder of several other South Pacific travel guides and is a regular host of webinars with the South Pacific Tourism Organisation.

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