Mobile Network in Leh Ladakh 2020 & Data Connectivity

by Vargis.Khan

If you are planning to visit this year, then mentioned below is the most recent update on Mobile Network in Leh Ladakh in the year 2020; which will also remain applicable for coming few years actually. Will my Mobile phone work in Ladakh or not is one of the foremost questions asked by anyone planning to visit there. Rollback about a decade or so and the answer to this question would most probably have been a straight no.

Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Leh Ladakh –  A Complete Travel Guide

Thankfully, such is not the condition anymore. Tourism in Ladakh has increased several folds in last few years; and as a result, availability of basic amenities too has improved drastically. Authorities are taking every step possible to make it easier for tourists to visit Ladakh. Along with facilities like hotels and local transport, cell phone connectivity too in Ladakh is far better now than it was a few years ago.

mobile network in leh ladakh

Which Mobile Network Works in Leh Ladakh?

The first thing that you should know here is that only postpaid mobile phones work in Ladakh; and in the entire state of Jammu & Kashmir actually. This is applicable by law and a mandate for all cell phone companies. If yours was a prepaid connection, then your mobile phone will be as good as a paperweight the moment you cross over into the state of J&K.

If you were however carrying a postpaid connection, then your cell phone reception will depend on where you were exactly. It will continue to change as you move from one place to another. At some locations, you will have full connectivity with 4G data; and at a few others, you will be completely off the network. Further details on the same are provided in the article below.

Best Mobile Network in Leh Ladakh

BSNL by far is the best mobile network in Ladakh with widest coverage. Airtel will be the second best network followed closely by Jio at third. Vodafone and Idea are next in line but both provide coverage at limited places only.

Also read: 10 Reasons why you should NEVER visit Ladakh

BSNL Network in Ladakh

Thing with a BSNL network is that there will be a slight compromise on voice clarity and data connectivity too will be bad; but you will get coverage at most of the major tourist attractions.

  • If you were carrying a postpaid BSNL network, then you will have full connectivity in Leh City. Data speed will be just about OK. Voice quality too in Leh will be acceptable.
  • With BSNL, you will remain connected at majority of the places in Nubra valley with an exception of Turtuk and Warshi. At Hunder, Diskit and Panamik, your phone will work just fine.
  • BSNL will work at Pangong as well but only during morning hours. Do keep in mind though that even if you were able to make a call, voice will be extremely bad and you will barely understand the other person. On the upside, you will at least be able to send text messages out.
  • At Tso Moriri, your BSNL network will continue to come and go at regular intervals. The last time I was there, I could not make or receive calls but was able to send an SMS.

BSNL prepaid phones do not work in Leh City; it must be a postpaid phone.

Also read: How to Deal with Acute Mountain Sickness in Ladakh

MTNL Network in Ladakh

Since BSNL and MTNL are pretty much the same deal, everything that I mentioned above about BSNL will apply to MTNL connections as well.

Airtel Network in Ladakh

Airtel Network coverage in Ladakh comes second to BSNL only in terms of coverage; but makes up for the gap by providing better sound quality and a faster internet.

  • You will have full network and 4G internet in Leh City.
  • In Nubra Valley, you will get full connectivity and 2G internet in Hunder and Diskit. There is no airtel coverage in places like Turtuk and Warshi yet. By May this year, Airtel will have 3G connectivity in Hunder.
  • There is no Airtel network at either Pangong or Tso Moriri.
  • Airtel has full connectivity in Kargil with 4G data. As a matter of fact, you will remain connected on the entire stretch between Leh and Kargil. You may lose the network for a while at a few spots but not for long.
  • With Airtel, you can actually hope to get connectivity even in Drass as well.

Surprisingly, Airtel has full connectivity on the Stok Kangri trek as well. You will remain on network at Stok Base Camp, Manokarma camp and at Stok Kangri Summit.

Airtel 4g in Ladakh

4G Connectivity on Airtel is available only in Leh city, nowhere else.

Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Turtuk

Jio Connection in Ladakh

Will Jio work in Ladakh? The answer is a definite yes with a few exceptions. Jio network in Ladakh has improved tremendously in last couple of years. Their coverage is in fact a bit greater than Airtel; with a better voice clarity and internet than BSNL.

  • Your Jio phone will have full coverage in Leh City.
  • In Nubra Valley, Jio has already started to provide 3G connectivity in Diskit and Hunder. It does not work any beyond than that though if you wanted to visit Turtuk as well.
  • There is no Jio connectivity yet at Pangong and Tso Moriri.
  • Jio provides full connectivity in Kargil as well with 4G data.

Vodafone network in Leh Ladakh

Vodafone sadly has not been able to improve their services in Ladakh yet. It’s coverage is limited to Leh City only and nowhere else.

Idea network in Leh Ladakh

Same as Ladakh, Idea mobiles too will work in Leh City only; nowhere else in Ladakh.

Apart from the cellular companies, let me also break this information by regions in Leh Ladakh.

Also read: Clothes for Ladakh Trip – What to Pack?

Mobile Network in Nubra Valley

BSNL, Airtel and Jio will work in Hunder, Diskit and Panamik. Only BSNL may provide some connectivity at Turtuk but do not count or rely on it. Jio is already providing 3G internet till Hunder and Airtel will start by May. Vodafone and Idea do not work in Nubra Valley.

There is no cell phone connectivity on Agham Shyok road; the direct route from Nubra valley to Pangong Lake.

Mobile network at Pangong Tso

Only BSNL has coverage at Pangong; but that too is mostly in early morning hours and at some spots only. Voice clarity will not be good and there will be no internet as well. You will however be able to send text messages out. Your cell phone will go off the network near Sakti as you start climbing up the Chang La Pass. BSNL users will then start to get connectivity after Tangtse and then it will be a “come and go” affair. This however will be limited to only around Spangmik. If you travel towards Man and Merak, expect to be off the network entirely.

Mobile network at Tso Moriri

Same like Pangong Tso, only BSNL phones may get some connectivity at Karzok but that too is highly doubtful. Even if you do get the network, it will continue to keep coming and going and you won’t be able to make any calls as such.

Mobile Network at Hanle and Chushul Route

There is no mobile coverage in Changthang Valley; including Hanle, Umling La, Chushul, Loma, Nyoma, Mahe and Sumdo. There is no connectivity in Chumathang as well.

BSNL users may get some signal occasionally in Hanle but I wouldn’t count on rely on it. Just assume that you may not get any connectivity at all once your go beyond Spangmik.

Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Tso Moriri

Mobile Network in Sham Valley

There is no cell phone connectivity in Sham Valley irrespective of which network you are on.

Mobile Network in Zanskar Valley

Only BSNL works in Zanskar Valley and that too only in the town of Padum. There is no mobile network available elsewhere in Zanskar Valley.

Mobile network in Jispa

BSNL may work in Jispa but don’t count on it really. The connectivity will mostly be intermittent.

Also Read: How to Obtain Inner Line Permit for Ladakh

Mobile network in Keylong

BSNL and Airtel both have connectivity in Keylong.

As you start to drive from Manali, you will lose network somewhere near Rohtang Pass. Vodafone and Idea will not get back on again until Leh. BSNL, Airtel and Jio users however can expect to get coverage for a day more around Keylong and Jispa. After that, it is a complete dead zone until Upshi. Once you cross Upshi and start to get closer to Leh City, all phones will jump back on network.

Mobile network in Kargil

BSNL, Airtel and Jio phones work well in Kargil. Starting from Srinagar, if you were on a postpaid connection, you will have some connectivity until Sonamarg. Your phone will be dead again until you reach Kargil. In Kargil, BSNL, Airtel and Jio will provide excellent network with good voice clarity and 4G data. On the stretch from Kargil to Leh, Airtel will continue to keep come and go at regular intervals.

Cell Phone network in Leh

Mobile network connectivity in Leh is great actually. No matter which network you are on, you will have full coverage. Airtel and Jio both provide 4G internet in Leh City. Vodafone and Idea do not have 4G in Leh yet but their speed is decent enough.

Also Read: How to Plan a trip to Ladakh with Infants or Children 

Mobile Network at Khardung La

Only BSNL works at Khardung La. If you were a Jio or Airtel user, you will lose connectivity but will get it back again as you drive down into Nubra Valley. For BSNL users though, network will continue to come and go throughout the day from Leh to Nubra Valley; and it will work on the top of Khardung La as well.

How can a foreigner get mobile network in Ladakh?

Foreigners can get a prepaid Airtel SIM in Leh at the main office that will be activated within several hours. Just bring your passport and a copy of your visa. 4G speeds depend on where in Leh you are but can be upwards of 10-15 Mbps if you’re near a tower.

If you know a local Ladakhi person who will provide you with a copy of their Voter ID card or drivers license, you can get a prepaid BSNL SIM from the main office near the bus station.

Mobile Network in Leh Ladakh – Conclusion

And I think that covers most of the information that you should know in terms of mobile network in Leh Ladakh. I do hope that the information posted above was of help. If you have any other questions; or need any further details; please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.

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33 comments

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Sameer Sinha September 13, 2020 - 6:20 pm

Vargis Bhai…if I purchase a Airtel/ BSNL postpaid connection in Maharashtra; will it work in leh Ladakh region.

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Vargis.Khan September 14, 2020 - 4:07 pm

Yes Sameer Bhai, it will.

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Subrata Banerjee December 16, 2019 - 4:43 am

Thank you for your cooperation Mr Khan.

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Bijoy Majumdar November 23, 2019 - 9:03 am

in nubra valley……you mentioned airtel postpaid 4g will start around may 2019……. i wanted to know if airtel postpaid 4g sim will work in sumur village, Lakzung.

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Vargis.Khan November 23, 2019 - 12:26 pm

Not yet. Jio has good data connectivity there but Airtel is still work in progress.

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Bijoy Majumdar November 23, 2019 - 6:56 pm

thank you for the information

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Akash Suresh October 28, 2019 - 1:34 am

I have an update here . Vodafone or Idea do not work in Leh city also . No signal absolutely

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Rahul September 30, 2019 - 9:52 am

Hello sir, just wanted to know whether jio prepaid works there or not as i have confirmed with jio cc. They apprised me that both postpaid and prepaid have connectivity in leh. Please confirm. Thanks

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Vargis.Khan September 30, 2019 - 4:51 pm

Hi Rahul Bhai – Yes it does. Jio works very well in Ladakh now.

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Rahul October 1, 2019 - 5:27 am

Sir my no. Is of delhi and its prepaid. Will it work in leh ?

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Vargis.Khan October 1, 2019 - 1:17 pm

No it will not Rahul Bhai

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Rahul October 1, 2019 - 1:30 pm

Thanks a lot Sir ! Highly grateful to you for a timely response.

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Vargis.Khan October 1, 2019 - 11:13 pm

You are welcome Bhai !!!

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Subrata Banerjee December 15, 2019 - 1:19 pm

Hello Mr Vargis Khan. My Jio sim is prepaid from Kolkata. Will it work in leh or ladakh or kargil? Pls help me.

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Vargis.Khan December 16, 2019 - 12:34 am

Prepaid connections do not work in Ladakh Mr. Banerjee. You will have to get postpaid.

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Subrata Banerjee December 16, 2019 - 4:49 am

Thanks for your cooperation. Airtel postpaid or jio postpaid which one would be the better choice Sir?

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Vargis.Khan December 17, 2019 - 2:50 pm

Both are same actually, you can get either of them.

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Rahul October 4, 2019 - 3:29 pm

Sir i have purchased a airtel postpaid sim. How is airtel network there ?

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Vargis.Khan October 4, 2019 - 9:38 pm

Airtel is Ok Rahul Bhai. It will work well. It would have been even better if you converted your Jio to postpaid though.

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David Patterson June 30, 2019 - 4:14 pm

Foreigners can get a prepaid Airtel SIM in Leh at the main office that will be activated within several hours. Just bring your passport and a copy of your visa. I’m using mine to type this comment. 4G speeds depend on where in Leh you are but can be upwards of 10-15 Mbps if you’re near a tower.

If you know a local Ladakhi person who will provide you with a copy of their Voter ID card or drivers license, you can get a prepaid BSNL SIM from the main office near the bus station. I was not able to do this myself.

Hope this helps any foreigners reading this post!

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Vargis.Khan June 30, 2019 - 8:54 pm

Thank you for adding this information David, very helpful indeed

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Loh WS July 4, 2019 - 4:13 am

Is it possible to buy the prepaid Airtel SIM from Delhi and use it in Leh town? Will it work in Leh town? Or is it a must to buy the prepaid Airtel SIM in Leh main office for use in Leh town? Likewise, will a prepaid Airtel SIM bought in Leh works in Delhi?

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Vargis.Khan July 4, 2019 - 4:33 pm

Better would be to buy in Leh. It will work in Delhi

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Garima singh June 1, 2019 - 2:59 pm

So which is the best choice bsnl Or airtel so that i can be connected

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Vargis.Khan June 1, 2019 - 7:53 pm

BSNL definitely

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Sandeep Roy May 28, 2019 - 7:15 am

how quickly can i get a prepaid sim in Leh ? i have airtel prepaid and i assume it will not work. also is it true for prepaid jiofi devices? travelling on 1/6.

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Vargis.Khan May 28, 2019 - 12:12 pm

Prepaid SIM does not work anywhere in J&K so you cannot even get one

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Sandeep Roy May 29, 2019 - 9:27 am

is it possible to buy a prepaid sim in Leh ? how long does it take to activate given that i am an out of state resident of India ?

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Gaurav Bhave May 27, 2019 - 5:46 am

Hey. Your every blog is very informative. Thanks. I have a BSNL Prepaid prepaid sim, as per ur blog it wont work there. Writing this to you to know that is there any updates in this? Will prepaid work?

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Vargis.Khan May 27, 2019 - 6:16 am

Prepaid will still not work Gaurav.

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Bharat April 30, 2019 - 6:05 am

Is introduction of Jio network in Ladakh a very recent development? A friend of mine who visited in September 2018 reported that there was no Jio network at that time. Thanks.

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Subrata Maity February 11, 2019 - 8:01 am

Hi
I am going to leh in 1st week of october for 12 days. I am covering all of leh from nubra valley to pangong lake then moving to srinagar via kargil. I have a postpaid airtel number and a bsnl prepaid number. I just want to know is it necessarly to convert my bsnl prepaid number to postpaid in order to stay connected or airtel be just fine.

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Vargis.Khan February 12, 2019 - 12:16 am

I wouldn’t say it is absolutely necessary if you can live without network for a few days without network

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