Technology has contributed significantly in improving communication facilities in Ladakh making even remote places accessible.
While Ladakh still has a long way to go in terms of mobile coverage (the difficult mountain terrain not making the job any easier), there has been considerable improvement in the past couple of years in extending coverage to even remote places like Hunder and Jispa. Networks especially outside Leh are erratic and dependent on weather conditions.
Here are some points regarding mobile coverage that should stand you in good stead during your Leh and Ladakh trip.
- Only post- paid connections work in Leh and Ladakh.
- BSNL has the best mobile connectivity followed by Airtel
- locally purchased sim cards are the only pre-paid cards that work in Jammu and Kashmir.
- Foreigners are required to show travel and passport documents in order to be able to purchase a local sim card. The easiest way to procure one is to ask your hotel manager and they can guide you, sometimes they even furnish the address proof required to purchase a local sim card.
- BSNL has the widest network coverage within Jammu and Kashmir.
- It is the travel routes that have little or zero connectivity. For instance if you are traveling via the Manali Leh highway, you are likely to find very little reception beyond Jispa and that too will be erratic. Similarly except for pockets in Kargil and Lamayuru, mobile coverage will be non- existent on the Srinagar Leh Highway. The story will be similar while traveling from Leh to Nubra Valley via Khardung La Pass and likewise to Pangong Lake from Leh.
- Tourist places like Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso, Hanle and Tso Moriri have received mobile connectivity in some parts, for instance Deskit and Hunder in Nubra Valley have mobile coverage though it is unreliable and call quality is highly erratic.
- Given that mobile connectivity cannot be relied upon, it is best to travel in a group. Plan your itinerary well in advance taking local weather into consideration.
- Satellite phones have been made available in remote villages lying on the way to major tourist attractions.
- You will be surprised to know that Whatsapp works well in many areas, even where call quality is very bad, sending and receiving text is definitely doable.