The telecommunications market in Colombia is very competitive, with several major operators and dozens of mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) fighting for customers. With so many options to choose from, it can be tricky to figure out which Colombia mobile operator is the right one for you.

In this guide, we’ll outline all the main Colombia mobile operators, look at key factors like coverage and data speeds, and provide a detailed comparison of the best networks in Colombia to help you pick the perfect operator. Read on to find out everything you need to know about choosing the best mobile operator in Colombia !

colombia mobile operators

I. List of Colombia Mobile Operators

mobile operators in colombia overview

There are around 13 major mobile operators providing cell phone and mobile internet services across Colombia. Here’s a quick overview of the main players:

1. Main Colombia Mobile Operators

Company Ownership Year Established Subscribers in Colombia Mobile Services
Claro América Móvil (Mexico) 1998 ~16 million Voice, text, data, fixed broadband, pay TV
Movistar Telefónica (Spain) 2005 ~13 million Voice, text, data, fixed broadband, pay TV
Tigo MIC (50% - 1 share), EPM (50% + 1 share) 2006 Over 5 millions Voice, text, data, mobile money
Wom Investcom (Colombia) 2021 Almost 2 millions Voice, text, data

2. Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) in Colombia

In additional to the major networks, there are also dozens of MVNOs in Colombia. These are smaller providers that use the network infrastructure of the big operators to provide cheaper mobile and data plans. Some popular MVNOs include:

  • Éxito Mobile – Uses Tigo’s network, competitive rates plus integration with Éxito loyalty program
  • Uff Móvil – Budget MVNO on Tigo, pay-as-you-go bundles from COP$5,000
  • Unefon – Low-cost plans on Tigo network, popular with students
  • Edatel – MVNO withClaro, focuses on prepaid plans and unlimited internet
  • Virgin Mobile – As mentioned above, targets youth market on Tigo’s network

So in summary – Claro, Movistar and Tigo control the majority of the mobile market in Colombia, but there are plenty of other options available too if you shop around.

II. How to Choose the Best Colombia Mobile Operator

how to choose mobile operator

With so many Colombia mobile operators to pick from, it can be hard to know where to start. Here are some of the key factors to consider when choosing the best network for your needs in Colombia:

  • Coverage & reliability – Check operator coverage maps to see which has the best signal in the areas you’ll use your phone. Ask locals for on-the-ground feedback too.
  • Data speeds – 4G speeds vary between operators, so test drive their networks with prepaid SIMs if possible. Faster speeds are ideal for streaming and heavy use.
  • Prices & plans – Compare monthly plan rates, data allowances, throttling policies etc. Prepaid plans can also be very economical.
  • Perks & extras – Some operators offer extra perks like unlimited social media/music streaming, free entertainment subscriptions or loyalty programs.
  • Customer service – Ask other users about reliability and support when issues arise. English support can also be useful for foreigners.
  • Phone compatibility – Unlocked GSM phones should work on any operator, but double check bands to get full 4G LTE speeds.

Generally coverage and data speeds will be the most important factors – it’s no good saving money on the cheapest plan if you end up with patchy service or slow internet.

III. Best Colombia Mobile Operators – Detailed Comparison

Based on the criteria above, these are our picks for the top Colombia mobile operators:

Operator Overall Experience Score Speed Experience Coverage Experience Consistency
Claro Fair Fast downloads (12.3 Mbps), fair uploads (7.2 Mbps) Strong coverage (8.6) but not best Fair consistency (31.4%)
Movistar Fair Slower speeds than competitors, downloads (9.8 Mbps) and uploads (6.7 Mbps) Good coverage (4.2) but not best Fair consistency (34.6%)
Tigo Fair Fastest downloads (14.1 Mbps) and uploads (8.2 Mbps) Good coverage (3.5) but not best Fair consistency (33.4%)
WOM Good Fast downloads (13.0 Mbps) and uploads (6.4 Mbps) Weakest coverage (1.4) Best consistency (51.2%)

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

Wondering where to get your hands on a SIM card from the top operators when you arrive in Colombia? Here are some of the best options:

  • At the airport – Claro, Movistar and Tigo all have sales desks at major airports such as Bogotá, Medellín and Cali, so you can pickup a SIM right after landing. Bring your passport.
  • Official carrier stores – The major operators have branded stores in cities and towns where you can pickup SIMs and get plans activated. Staff usually speak some English.
  • Major malls & supermarkets – Many larger malls and chains like Alkosto, Ktronix and Jumbo sell prepaid starter packs from multiple carriers. Convenient but less advice.
  • Mobile SIM vendors – Local street vendors in busy areas often sell unauthorized prepaid SIMs which work out cheaper but come with risks.

For the best service, it’s advisable to visit an official carrier store and have staff get your new SIM card fully up and running. But airport desks and authorized resellers offer more convenience if you need a quick option upon arrival.

V. Do Colombia Mobile Operators Offer eSIM?

For travelers with newer phones that support eSIM (embedded digital SIMs), this technology is starting to become available with some major operators in Colombia:

  • Claro – Offers eSIM activation for iPhone 13/14 models. Users must visit a Claro store for setup as eSIM profiles are tied to your passport details.
  • Movistar – Currently provides eSIM for iPhones and Samsung Galaxy S22 series. Only available for existing Movistar postpaid customers, not prepaid tourists.
  • Tigo – Does not yet offer eSIM capability to consumers in Colombia. Coming soon according to Tigo customer service.
  • WOM – Similar to Tigo, does not currently provide eSIMs but has announced plans to launch the service. Expected sometime in 2023.

So in summary, eSIM capability exists but remains quite limited in Colombia.

Travelers also have the option to buy a prepaid eSIM plan directly from a specialist provider like by GIGAGO before their trip to Colombia. We offer short-term data packages ranging from 3 to 30 days that can be instantly activated once you land in Colombia without needing to insert a new SIM. Plans are affordable, starting at just 1GB for a few dollars up to 20GB per day depending on your needs.

colombia esim plans

The data will run on the reliable mobile operator networks throughout Colombia such as Claro, Movistar, and Tigo. allows easy management of your eSIM right from our website. After checkout, you’ll get access to an online portal. Here, you can activate your eSIM by scanning the QR code sent to your email, change plans if your requirements change during your vacation, add or remove data packages to customize the plan, monitor usage and balance in real-time, and update payment or contact details when needed.

how benefits you

To set it up, first check your device is eSIM compatible using our list. Then pick a plan length that suits your trip duration and complete purchase – the activation code will instantly reach your inbox. Next, go to your phone’s cellular settings, scan the QR code and follow the prompts. Your eSIM will then be live.

Having control over your eSIM through our portal simplifies management whether in Colombia or before departure. It’s a hassle-free way to stay connected while traveling abroad.


Which Colombia mobile operator has the best coverage – Claro, Tigo or Movistar?

Claro has the most extensive 4G LTE and 3G coverage of any operator in Colombia, estimated at 98% population coverage nationwide including rural areas. Movistar has 95% coverage focused on urban centers, while Tigo’s network reaches around 92% of the population.

Can I use my unlocked phone on Colombia networks?

Yes, as long as you have an unlocked GSM-compatible phone it will work on Colombia’s mobile networks. For 4G LTE access, optimal compatibility is ensured if your device supports band 2, 3 or 7 LTE, plus 3G bands 850 and 1900 MHz. Confirm your model’s supported bands before traveling.

Is prepaid or postpaid better for travelers in Colombia?

For shorter trips, a prepaid SIM is the easiest and most flexible option. Topping up credit as needed allows you to control costs more carefully. For extended stays or frequent travelers who make a lot of calls, a monthly postpaid plan can provide better rates and included data.

How can I check mobile data speeds in Colombia?

Run speed tests using apps like Speedtest by Ookla and Fast to compare performance on different networks in your area. OpenSignal and RootMetrics also publish reports comparing average data speeds across Colombia operators based on crowdsourced testing.

VII. Final Words

Choosing the right Colombia mobile operator is crucial for staying connected on your trip. The major networks Claro, Movistar, Tigo and WOM all have their strengths in different areas. For most travelers, Claro or WOM present the best options combining strong nationwide coverage and fast 4G speeds. But be sure to compare prepaid data bundles and prices to get the plan that fits your usage needs.

Wherever you’re traveling in Colombia, you’ll find a mobile operator to keep your smartphone powered up. Just be sure to have the proper unlocked phone for compatibility, and pickup a local SIM card or prepaid pack upon arrival. Staying connected will make navigating and sharing your experiences on trips through this amazing country easy and enjoyable.