In April I was in Morocco for a week and needed to be able to connect to the internet to avoid falling behind with admin tasks. Whilst this was not a motorhome tour for me, Morocco is a popular destination for motorhome owners so I thought I would write this article about how I accessed the internet in Morocco.
Generally when trying to access the internet on the move you have a couple of options. The first option is to try and connect to unsecured broadband wifi signals in places like shops, cafes, campsites, McDonalds etc. To do this you will need to be close to the router which often means having to purchase food or services and it’s not always convenient. There are USB devices with antennas that you can buy that will significantly boost your laptop’s ability to ‘see’ wireless signals which I will talk about more in another article. The second option and the one that seems to work best in Morocco is to buy a SIM card from one of their telecom providers which will give you access to the internet in Morocco for most of the country.
When doing some research on the internet in Morocco it appeared that of the networks on offer, Maroc Telecom offered the best coverage across the country. When I landed in Marrakech the first thing I did was to visit a Maroc Telecom shop in the new part of town which happened to be very close to McDonalds. The package I purchased is known as Maroc Telecom Menara 3G prépayé. It seems they offer packages that come with a dongle and some that are SIM only. I also think they offer plans for different durations and subsequent top-ups can be for different durations too. Not speaking Arabic or French I ended up buying the SIM only device that came with access to the internet for a month (I don’t know if it was possible to buy something with access for just a week). From memory at the rate of exchange that applied at the time the cost was less than £20.00.
To use the service the SIM card will have to go inside an unlocked device. This could be a modern smartphone, 3G enabled tablet or a USB dongle or wireless dongle like my Huawei E586. My Sony Xperia Go phone was unlocked but since I wanted to use the Huawei E586 I had to unlock it before leaving the UK. I did this online for a small fee using software called DC Unlocker. Once unlocked I was hoping it would be a simple case of just placing the SIM inside the Huawei E586…….WRONG!
The Maroc Telecom service required you to enter a PIN code when prompted before you could use the service. Now I had not brought my laptop with me to Morocco, the plan was to access the internet using my Nexus 7 tablet via the Huawei E586. Placing the SIM inside the Huawei and turning it on and the display asked me to enter the PIN. The problem is the Huawei does not have a keypad and it’s not possible to enter any PIN. So I thought I’d put the SIM inside the Sony smartphone instead and use its keypad to enter the PIN. This seemed to work for the Sony but when you placed the SIM back inside the Huawei it would again ask for the PIN. Had I brought the laptop with me I would simple cable the Huawei via USB and enter the PIN via the connection software. Luckily the Riad I was staying at had a computer I could use. I then proceeded to connect the Huawei E586 to the computer via USB, let it download any drivers and software it needed and then in a browser window I entered http://192.168.1.1 to access the web management page where I could then enter the PIN code. If you plan to use a Huawei E586 to access the internet in Morocco bear in mind that you will need to connect it to a laptop or computer to be able to enter the PIN! Once the PIN was entered the I was able to connect to the internet using my Nexus 7 and my friends were able to share my connection too.
Internet in Morocco – What is Maroc Telecom coverage like?
During my trip I visited Marrakech, Todra and Dades Gorges, Merzouga (desert), Imlil and the mountain huts below the summit of Toubkal. I found access was generally very good indeed. In most populated towns and cities the connection was stable and relatively quick. I was not able to get a data connection from the mountain hut but people were able to make voice calls and send text messages when their mobile phones were close to a window. I did find it a problem connecting when driving through areas of the High Atlas mountains but generally I was very pleased with Maroc Telecom and would recommend them to anyone wanting to access the internet in Morocco.