Posted originally on January 11, 2012; update June 2013.
Update July 5, 2013 – Lao Telecom expects 4G services to be launched in Vientiane within one month. 60 base stations will cover the urban area.
Beeline, formerly Tigo Lao recently became the last mobile operator in Laos to upgrade from GPRS and EDGE, by launching a “3G+4G” service from January 2012 in Vientiane and Luang Prabang and Savannakhet in March. Other 3G providers are Lao Telecom, ETL and Unitel.
Depending on user location and traffic, Beeline 3G service is faster than the others if using a high-speed capable phone or USB modem. A typical 3.6 Mbps phone or 7.2 Mbps modem will probably produce similar results to the 1-2 Mbps download speeds from LaoTel or ETL. Unitel performance should be better than those, although throttling is imposed on some plans.
Beeline sells a badged locked ZTE MF 656A (14.4 Mbps) and MF 668A (21 Mbps) USB dongle for 300,000 and 350,000 kips respectively. Data plans are suited to mobile phones with low daily, weekly or monthly internet requirements; plan prices are comparable with the others. See more below.
A Tigo or Beeline SIM (with phone number, so not data only) should automatically switch to 3G on a capable phone or device where service is available, so there’s no need to upgrade or change any settings. APN is beelinenet.
Beeline is testing a 4G/LTE network for Laos – not WiMax as employed by Lao Telecom and Planet. This is still in development and service is not yet available (as of October 19). LTE requires compatible phones and modems such as used for LTE systems deployed in the USA, Korea and Singapore. See related post.
April 2012 update
The Beeline AD1 and AM1 ‘unlimited’ data plans now have restrictions due to what the operator feels was excessive downloading by some subscribers. Limits are currently 1GB per day with a monthly maximum of 10GB. Connection is not affected, bandwidth reduces to 256Kbps if the limits are exceeded, sufficient for email and web browsing.
June 2013 update
There is still no 4G LTE service in Laos, either from Beeline or Lao Telecom.