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Majestic glaciers and snow-capped mountains, deep fjords and sprawling forests, Norway is easily one of the most beautiful countries in the world.
It’s also one of the most expensive, with everything from food and activities to transport and accommodation likely to set you back far more than you’re used to.
Free Wi-fi is common, including on trains, but it’s not everywhere. Fortunately, given the eye-watering costs of everything else, Norwegian mobile costs are relatively affordable.
It’d be quite a stretch to call them a bargain, but in the land of the $28 burrito, staying connected is one of the few things that isn’t going to make your bank balance cry out in horror.
Like almost everything else in the country, it’s also a simple, straightforward process.
Note: Norway is part of the European Economic Area, which means it’s affected by the European Union’s which introduced new roaming regulations in June 2017. These “roam like at home” rules effectively ended roaming charges across much of Europe, meaning you’ll usually pay no more for calls, texts, and data in other EU countries than you would in the country of purchase.
Only certain types of Lycamobile prepaid plan are eligible for free roaming, however. Be sure to check the details below if you’re planning to use your SIM elsewhere in the region.
There are three cell networks in Norway, operated by Telenor, Tele2 and NetCom. Telenor has the best coverage, followed by NetCom.
A few companies resell service from one of those providers. I opted to go with Lycamobile, which uses the NetCom network, since it had the best combination of cost and coverage.
Purchasing was very easy, not least because there was a little foreign exchange store that also sold SIM cards a few metres from my hostel in Oslo.
The vendor spoke good English, and after showing my passport and providing my hostel address, I had a new micro SIM card in a few minutes. There were no forms to fill out.
Since the card came with no credit, I purchased a top-up card at the same time. The instructions to activate it were in Norwegian, but easy enough to follow, and I received a confirmation SMS immediately.
Activating the data package I wanted required sending a code shown on the in-store brochure.
The only challenge was finding the correct APN settings. I didn’t get a data connection with the standard settings, and the vendor didn’t know the details. In the end I was able to use my hostel’s Wi-fi to track the information down, which was:
The card itself was free, and 99 NOK (~$13) buys a reasonably small data allowance of 600MB, valid for thirty days.
If that won’t be enough to last your time in the country, Lyca also offers 1GB for 129 NOK and 1.75GB for 199 NOK.
If you need to make calls and send SMS as well, you may want to buy the 99 NOK “Smart S” bundle. It includes 100 minutes of calls to several EU/EEC countries including Norway, 100 texts, and 200MB of data. Just add an extra data package when you need it.
Note that only Lycamobile’s “Smart Plans” include free EU/EEC roaming. If you’re heading to other countries after Norway and want to roam, you’ll probably want to go for one of those plans.
Honestly though, they’re not great value. You may just want to pick up a new SIM in your next destination instead.
Lycamobile’s site has more details on all of its current plans.
You can buy top-ups almost anywhere you see a sign for Lycamobile. In Oslo, at least, that seemed to be every other block.
Just as when making the initial purchase, you’ll receive a card with a top-up code. First load the credit onto your SIM with the included instructions, and then send the code to renew or activate whichever package you need.
Coverage and Data Speeds
HSPA+ speed and coverage were both very impressive. Download speeds in Oslo were among the fastest I’ve seen on a 3G (HSPA+) connection, and didn’t change much in Bergen. Although uploads were far slower, they were still quick enough to make a video Skype call without a problem.
The coverage area was far better than expected. I often had full signal even in mountains with no sign of habitation during a cross-country train trip, or on a boat trip through the fjords around Bergen.
Check out our guides to buying SIM cards in many other countries here.