Which is the best mobile network operator for travelers in Pakistan? There are many options to choose from but when it comes to frequent traveling in remote areas then one must do some research and choose the one which works in most of the areas with good signal strength.
Usually I avoid using gadgets, except dslr cameras if you include them in the list of gadgets as well, while I am traveling because I want to enjoy the nature to the maximum level but sometime I really need to connect with the world.
I have been a postpaid Mobilink user for almost 10 years. In the mainstream cities like Islamabad, Lahore etc. it works very well but in remote areas especially northern areas of Pakistan I have found Mobilink to be the worst mobile network operator. You can simply say that Mobilink doesn’t exist in the northern areas of Pakistan.
For example I would expect Mobilink to work fine in a city like Gilgit but it doesn’t. You cannot even make phone calls let alone using Facebook, Twitter and Instgram apps with Mobilink in northern areas of Pakistan. As a backup I use Telenor for making calls back home to let them know about my status and it works almost everywhere. Zong and Ufone also work very well but these two doesn’t work in Chitral side.
Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir
In Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir the winner is SCOM but Zong works well too. Since SCOM is a govt owned mobile network so it enjoys full monopoly and offers 4G services. As of 2019, rest of the mobile networks are still waiting for approval from govt to launch 3G/4G services. If you are a frequent traveler to northern areas then I suggest that you buy an SCOM SIM.
Leepa Valley – AJK
I went to Leepa valley in July 2019. Me and friends had sims of Telenor, Mobilink and SCOM. All of them worked fine till Rashian. Beyond Rashian and in Leepa valley only SCOM worked.
When I went to Chitral first time in 2015 to cover Chilum Joshi festival then I found out that only Telenor works in majority of the areas over there.
Shogran and Paye Meadows
Telenor and Zong work best at Shogran. I spent couple of nights both in winter and as well as in summer at Shogran and carried portable internet device of both Zong and Telenor with me. 4G of Telenor and Zong works so good at Shogran that I can carry my laptop with me and work from there.
Telenor works best in Swat valley. In 2017 I went to Desan meadows and Kandol lake after Eid Ul Fitr. I was surprised that that I got a call from home while I was at the top of Desan meadows.
Zong works best in Mankyal (Maankial) valley of Swat. If you plan to explore Chukail meadows or Jabah meadows in Mankyal valley then make sure to keep a Zong sim with you. I did Chukails meadows trek in June 2019 and was surprised to know that Telenor doesn’t work in Maankial valley, which lies between Bahrian and Kalam.
Upper Dir Kohistan
Upper Dir Kohistan is a valley of upper Dir district. Upper Dir Kohistan has many tourist attractions. Most of the people know about Kumrat valley and call this whole major valley as Kumrat valley but that is not true. Kumrat itself is just a sub-valley of Upper Dir Kohistan valley. Surprisingly the worst mobile network i.e. Mobilink in northern areas work better than all other networks in Kumrat valley. Since Kumrat is mostly forested area with very little population hence Mobilink’s network work in patches.
Other major tourist attractions of Upper Dir Kohistan include Jahaz Banda Meadows. If you haven’t been there then for your understanding it is like Fairy Meadows. Once again it is the Telenor network which works best in Jahaz Banda Meadows.
SCOM is best alternative but it only works in Gilgit Baltistan. If you are an avid traveler then it is best to carry SIMs of at least two different mobile network operators. And those two SIMs will be SCOM/Zong and Telenor.
So in short Telenor is my first choice for Swat, Chitral and Upper Dir Kohistan regions while SCOM comes at 2nd number when I am traveling to Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir.
Also checkout following articles: